I was afraid to see the movie Unplanned. I heard I would be seeing an abortion onscreen and I didn’t know how I would react to it. That wasn’t the only fear, though.
While the movie theater attendants helped direct me to the theater, I immediately felt the need to qualify my movie choice. The words “I’m seeing this for work” bubbled up and spilled out of my mouth before I even considered them. The fear of what people would assume about me once I was connected to this movie was just beneath the surface.
I’m very pro-life. I lean conservative. I grew up in churches that are pro-life. None of this is new to me.
So why did I feel this uncertainty?
Honestly, how was the movie?
** Spoilers **
The underlying fear came from two places. First, it’s hard for mainstream culture to get past the notoriously cheesy production quality of Christian movies, no matter how great the message. Second, I’m sad to say, I feared people in the theater would label me as an extreme activist, naive follower, or hater of women.
So, how did the movie measure up? A lot of it was cheesy as expected, but the scenes that mattered – bloody, raw depictions of what really happens in abortion scenarios and what Abby saw at Planned Parenthood – were extremely realistic and sobering. I think it deserved its R rating and it actually helps drive home the point of the movie.
It’s an interesting dichotomy. Everyday life scenes weren’t believable, but as soon as we got to a pivotal scene about what these clinics are really like, it was as if time had stopped and I believed every piece of it.
I think more people would consider our message if Christians would hold ourselves to a higher standard in media and focus a little more on the humanity of the characters.
Yet my hat goes off to the writers and directors for their spot on portrayal of several very real, very intense, very bloody scenes depicting Abby’s real-life experiences with her own two abortions and her time at Planned Parenthood. Even if you hate the rest of the movie, they can’t be ignored because they’re done so incredibly well.
After researching some of the more extreme details in the movie, I believe them. Abby Johnson herself remains calmly adamant that this movie (adapted from her book, Unplanned) is not just based on a true story – the events really happened to her. If you set aside your preconceived notions and look at it from the lens of Abby’s story, this movie is harrowing and convincing.
Is the movie worth seeing?
Yes. This movie is worth watching.
I would proceed cautiously if you have ever had an abortion, worked in an abortion facility, or even had a miscarriage. I long for you to know you have complete redemption and freedom in Christ – I hope you already walk in that – but I also know some scenes could bring up a lot of pain.
The message of redemption was there, but I fear it might be clouded by the Planned Parenthood narrative. As you watch, please remember, Abby Johnson – a woman who had 2 abortions and assisted in over 22,000 others at Planned Parenthood – has found freedom and walks in a new purpose.
I wish the movie had focused more on the details of what healing looks like for Abby and other women who had abortions depicted in the film. The details and plot line about Planned Parenthood belong in the movie, but I fear the writers may have missed an opportunity to explore an important part of humanity and redemption along the way.
If you walk into this movie determined to point out the negatives, you will find them, but forcing myself to sit with the gravity of the situation for two hours was a good experience for me. It challenged the way I engage with the subject of abortion.
It’s an important conversation starter. I encourage you to see it and form your own opinions.
Will this movie change someone’s mind?
I’m skeptical that many pro-choice advocates or clients of Planned Parenthood will watch this movie on their own. I’m glad it’s there for the possibility, but it will be hard to wade through the production flaws and their own experience to truly consider another side to a polarizing issue.
I’m curious to hear more about how people of other opinions and experiences react to this movie.
It’s true. I personally can’t fathom watching this movie and at the very least not question the United State’s attitude toward abortion. If you’re at all curious, I encourage you to go see the movie and understand this side for yourself.
Did this movie change my mind?
It didn’t change my mind (I was already against abortion and didn’t like Planned Parenthood), but it will change the way I talk about abortion moving forward.
I’m allowed to think and say that Planned Parenthood is wrong. I don’t have to qualify my choice to see this movie. While I never want to give up compassion, civility, and a quest for true unity (even in the midst of disagreements), I don’t have to be so careful about calling abortion what it is – horrifying death to a baby and tragic physical, emotional damage to a woman.I think 'Unplanned' will change the way I talk about abortion moving forward. Click To Tweet
The story also reminded me of the power of prayer. So often we think we have to do everything. I believe faith without action isn’t real faith (James 2:14-26), but pretending we can change the number of abortions in our country and love the lives affected by unplanned pregnancies without help from something greater is missing the mark. When we think we hold all of the control or the measuring stick of forgiveness, that’s when negative pro-life stereotypes make the news.
Throughout the movie, we get to know characters who faithfully and peacefully prayed outside of the abortion clinic where Abby worked for over 8 years. Unplanned ends with the abortion clinic Abby worked at being closed and torn down. These weren’t the people with the signs and the angry social media posts. They were people who believed in the power of prayer and showed kindness to everyone they saw. That’s the kind of person I want to be.
I hope the resurgence of this reality in Christian pop-culture doesn’t result in more judgement. I believe it should result in more fervent compassion for those who have gone through abortion and a greater reliance on the power of God to make real change.
I wonder what this movie could have been if put in the hands of different writers and directors, but for now, I’ll take it for what it is and walk away challenged to engage with this idea as a more informed, more passionate, and more compassionate woman.