by Catherine Goldberg ’20 A&E Staff
Unfazed by a Twitter ban, “R” rating, and a restriction to be shown in select theaters throughout the U.S., the new pro-life film Unplanned,is currently among one of the top 10 films in the box-office. The film stirred controversy among Hollywood producers and pro-choice activists. Nearly a dozen major music labels denied producers’ requests to license music for the film. Other than Fox and the Christian Broadcasting Network, major TV networks have refused to run ads promoting it. Nonetheless, the film earned $3.2 million during its second weekend in theaters.
Unplanned tells the true story of Abby Johnson (portrayed by Ashley Bratcher), a former Planned Parenthood director and “employee of the year,” following her life journey from pro-choice to pro-life activism.
Over the course of eight years, Johnson rose in the ranks of Planned Parenthood, eventually becoming one of the youngest clinic directors in history. Her parents and husband were completely against her working for a company that supports abortion; however, Abby believed what she was doing was right and that it was helping women. But everything changed for her when she assisted in an ultrasound-guided abortion.
In the initial 15 minutes of the film, Abby narrates what she experienced while witnessing the abortion of a 13-week fetus. Instructed by the doctor to probe an ultrasound, Abby sees a baby on the sonogram. To Abby, the baby on the sonogram appeared to be “twisting” and “fighting for its life.” Abby ran out of the procedure room in tears and ultimately changed her position on abortion entirely. To Abby, it was “this perfect little baby,” and then “it was just gone.” Abby no longer saw abortion as a woman’s right, but rather, as killing a child.
The movie flashes back to other incidents which participated in her conversion, including two of her own abortions. One of her abortions was through the use of the abortion pill which a worker at Planned Parenthood told her would easily end her pregnancy with some “light bleeding.” However, she ends up feeling on the brink of death, left alone in excruciating pain for 12 hours. In another scene, a high-school girl is brought into the clinic by her father. She experiences severe complications and bleeding, yet the head of the clinic refuses to call 911, as it may cause bad publicity for Planned Parenthood.
Unplanned does not shy away from portraying Johnson’s view of abortion. A pro-choice review by Bridgett Bayley revealed that this narrative “moved her to tears” and she “appreciated the way the workers of Planned Parenthood were portrayed. . . like they really did believe what they were doing was morally right.” The National Review says, “None of it is easy to watch, but none of it is a lie.”
In an interview with Fox News Insider, Bratcher describes what it was like to play the role of Abby and the message she wants America to hear. She says, “This movie is not about judgement. We are not seeking to attack Planned Parenthood, but to open the eyes of the public to reveal what abortion really is.”