The movie “Unplanned,” a Pureflix biopic about former Planned Parenthood director-of-the-year Abby Johnson, had more than a few “unplanned” obstacles to overcome for its opening weekend.
First, the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an R-rating because of its depiction of abortion. As I mentioned on The Point last month, how tragically ironic that in many states a teenage girl doesn’t need parental permission to get an abortion but needs it to see a movie about abortion.
Then, by some weird “coincidence” (yes, I’m using scare quotes there), the movie’s Twitter account was suspended on the day of the movie’s release. And of course, CNN, the Hallmark Channel, and almost every other major network refused to accept advertising dollars for the movie. Even a major Christian music network refused to promote the film.
Even so, “Unplanned” brought in $6.1 million over the weekend, and Forbes magazine predicts it will gross $16 million, which would be “a solid win” for a limitedly-distributed film.
I took my daughter to see “Unplanned,” and I was moved. Even more, I left convinced that it teaches an incredibly important lesson: Silence about abortion is unacceptable and the reasons Christians give to justify their silence—like abortion being too “political” or too “negative”—are tragically bogus.
Abby Johnson was the youngest Planned Parenthood director in the country. Over her eight years with the organization, she grew increasingly uncomfortable. As she says at her website, she realized “abortion was a product Planned Parenthood was selling, not an unfortunate necessity they were fighting to decrease.” Then, she was asked to assist with an abortion, and watched the abortionist kill a 13-week old baby.
That was the final straw, and the rest, as they say is history. A history now on film for all to see.
Of course, it’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood and its allies don’t want you to see behind the curtain of this national evil. As long as abortion remains hidden, they can continue to peddle their talking points, half-truths and lies: that abortion is not really the taking of a human life; that abortion is a compassionate choice for women; that Planned Parenthood isn’t in this for the money; and that this is about helping women, and on and on.
What is surprising and what “Unplanned” exposes in a powerful way, is how misguided, and even cowardly, it is for Christians to remain silent. We have our reasons, of course: “It’s not Christian to protest abortion clinics,” we are told. Abortion is a “political issue,” and we don’t want to make those who have had an abortion feel bad.
“Unplanned” unmasks just how misguided each of those talking points is. First, it contrasts harmful protesting with the incredible power of prayer and consistent presence. When Abby escaped Planned Parenthood, she ran directly to the Human Coalition, people she met day after day after day outside of her clinic.
Second, the film earned its R rating because it showed the realities of both surgical and medical abortions. See it for yourself if you still think this is about “politics,” and not about the ending of innocent human life.
And finally, in a particularly poignant scene in the movie, Abby begins to realize the enormity of the evil she’s participated in—20,000 abortions, 20,000 lost lives. Her only recourse is forgiveness.
Churches that are silent about abortion—because it ruins the positive vibe they want to have, or whatever—aren’t dealing in reality. To ignore this issue because we don’t want people to feel badly is to literally leave them in their guilt and shame. Why would any Christian who’s been forgiven want to do that? Why wouldn’t we want to point others to the love and forgiveness of Jesus that we’ve found, so they can find the redemption and the help that they really need?
I’m thankful to see Abby Johnson’s “Unplanned” story finally make it to the big screen. I’m thankful that it’s exceeded so many expectations. And I pray that we will seize the opportunities we have, like the one this movie presents to us, to speak up loudly about abortion.
And today, on the BreakPoint Podcast, Warren Smith interviews Abby Johnson. You can hear her story directly in her own words—at BreakPoint.org or wherever you download podcasts.