On a typical Saturday in Abby Johnson’s Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, Johnson would normally work at her desk speaking with potential clients. However, one particular Saturday was different as Johnson was called to help with a doctor performing an abortion. The doctor tasked her with holding the ultrasound so that he could see the unborn baby as he was removing it, a.k.a. killing it. Johnson sees the unborn baby fights for life on the ultrasound screen until he is violently crushed and sucked out of the womb. This process shocked Johnson as she had never witnessed an abortion like this before. This opening scene also jars the audience, which is what the filmmakers of “Unplanned” wanted. They intended to show the stark reality of abortion, and they did.
Last weekend, the Pure Flix film “Unplanned” released with surprising financial success in select theaters throughout the nation. Box Office Mojo reported that it made around $6.3 million making it the number four movie at the box office for the weekend of March 29-31. Also according to Box Office Mojo, “Unplanned” outperformed “Captain Marvel” by percentage of viewers per screen purchased for each film.. It also earned an A+ Cinema Score and 93% of audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes liked it though critics panned it.
“Unplanned,” rated R for disturbing and bloody images, revolves around the story of Abby Johnson. Johnson, up until the aforementioned scene, had been successfully moving up the ranks of Planned Parenthood’s corporate ladder. Johnson was first acquainted with Planned Parenthood through an information desk while attending Texas A&M. It was there that Johnson developed her belief that Planned Parenthood was more than an abortion provider, and actually an important women’s health provider.
After college, Johnson began to volunteer at a local Planned Parenthood clinic, much to the chagrin of her staunchly pro-life parents. She moved quickly through the ranks of the clinic following her first job escorting clients from the clinic’s parking lot to the clinic away from both the raucous and peaceful protestors. Eventually, she became a clinic counselor whose job it was to counsel women into getting abortions. Eventually, Johnson ended up as director of the clinic and actually won the Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year award.
The filmmakers make clear Johnson’s belief that she was doing good work that helped women. However, this all changed after Johnson witnessed an actual abortion. It horrified her and she resigned the next Monday and promptly joined “Forty Days for Life,” a pro-life organization. To some, this plot would seem contrived. However, it is based off the true story of the actual ex-Planned Parenthood employee and current pro-life activist, Abby Johnson.
“Unplanned” is a powerful film because it is both heartbreaking and hopeful. First, it accurately portrays the brutal reality of abortion countering the view that abortion is simply a normal medical procedure. Abortion ends the life of a living and breathing helpless unborn child. It also leaves serious physical and emotional scars on the women who undergo abortions. The film does not stop here though, but is also portrays the redemption and forgiveness of Abby Johnson.
It offers hope and redemption in Christ not only for those who have had abortions, but also those who have participated in performing abortions. There is a particularly poignant scene where Johnson sits on the floor of her living room crying in anguish. She is sad, not only because of the two abortions she herself had, but also because of the thousands of women she had counseled into getting abortions. She is consoled by her husband who encourages her to turn to Christ, who forgives and redeems the broken heart. In the end, that is what she does, and she relies on Christ for forgiveness.
“Unplanned” is an insightful and important film. It is much more than just a film on abortion. It is the story of one woman’s journey out of the darkness and into the light.