4 Stars – Powerful
What does a person do when they realize that their early adult choice led them down an evil path? Does this person simply keep going on in denial of their increasing awareness or do they make a change so major as to redefine not only their sense of purpose but of self? In a true life story of the youngest clinic director of Planned Parenthood in its history, Unplanned describes that moment in the life of Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher) where she changed the direction and purpose of her life.
Taking us through an eight-year period described in her book of the same title, we begin with that moment when Johnson experienced abortion in all its cruelty requiring the R rating for the film. Collapsing into tears as she rushes from the exam room we then go back in time to that moment when it all began. As a junior studying psychology at Texas A&M we see her being invited by a winsome representative of Planned Parenthood to come and volunteer. Believing the clinic’s statement that they were primarily concerned with birth control so they could make abortion increasingly rare, she began her journey.
As is often found in true stories, the journey Johnson takes is both unremarkable yet punctuated with memorable moments. For her these transforming moments were very identifiable, both for her and for us: Convincing herself that what she was doing was good, yet not wanting to tell her mother; Focusing on the extreme protestors who scream murder and only later finding the prayer warriors who grieve for the mothers, children and employees; Enjoying the comradery of the clinic nurses living behind a curtain of denial as they joke about their POC room not being “products of conception” but “pieces of children” that must be reassembled to make sure nothing remained in the womb; Experiencing the callous disregard for the very life of a young teenager who was bleeding but they would not call an ambulance because of media concerns; To the birth of her own daughter at the discouragement of her clinical director Cheryl (Robia Scott); To her looking up the file on her own abortion; To the witnessing of a suction abortion as she held the ultrasound probe; To the pressure by Planned Parenthood corporate to double the number of the abortions each clinic does; To the explanation by her supervisor that the profit is in the abortions.
All of these milestones on her journey bring her to the place where she is now an outspoken prolife person working not only to save the lives of the unborn child but the lives of her fellow workers in the abortion industry. The film informs us that in these six years since she left Planned Parenthood she has helped 500 people find new work with new purpose.
As is true of all films that explore morality, there will be three responses to Unplanned: Those who go to see the film because they are prolife and experience this story as true and expected; Those who will not go to see the film because they are prochoice and assume this story to be false; And those who will go see the film with an open-mind and grant dignity to Johnson as they witness her journey. It is to those in the third group that Abby and the producers have focused the film. We encourage everyone to go and experience this authentic tale of life.
1. It is true that abortions are becoming increasingly rare. Why do you think this is true?
2. Planned Parenthood receives tax dollars. Do you believe such an organization should be supported by tax dollars? Why do you answer as you do?
3. The events of our life are often transformative. What has been a significant moment in your life that so impacted you that you changed directions?