By Dave Andrusko
My role as a grandfather for the third time meant I was time-strapped and unable to see Unplanned when it came out last Friday. Instead I saw the movie last night, the first time I could. I should warn you that the movie is truthful in all abortion’s bloody reality but is all the more reason for you see it.
To catch up, we’ve posted several stories today about the movie and the success it has enjoyed (media obstacles notwithstanding), along with a review I wrote about a blog post by Abby Johnson, the author of the book on which the movie is based, way back in 2011.
Many to most of you are familiar with the broad outlines of Abby’s story. It is a classic conversion story—from “Employee of the Year” at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic she directed to someone who tearfully came over to the pro-life side and has since brought over 400 abortion clinic workers out of the pit of hell where they worked.
I’d like to take a few minutes to explain why Unplanned works as a movie and why it is an enormous contribution to our Movement. As a jumping off point, because he is abysmally off the mark, here’s the opening quote from the very unsympathetic Owen Gleiberman, writing in the Chicago Tribune.
“Unplanned” isn’t a good movie, but it’s effective propaganda — or, at least, it is if you belong to the group it’s targeting: those who believe that abortion in America, though a legal right, is really a crime. It’s hard to imagine the movie drawing many viewers outside that self-selected demographic
So, in a sentence Unplanned is just pro-life balderdash that someone who is not already firmly ensconced in the right-to-life camp will find unpersuasive. It would take a month to unpack that one, it is so wrong.
Propaganda is one-dimensional. Nuances and complexity are for the birds. Nothing could be further from the truth in the way Ashley Bratcher portrays Abby Johnson.
One of the many reasons Bratcher’s/Abby’s escape from Planned Parenthood is so powerful is that the audience sees that Abby is a true, true, true believer in women’s rights/reproductive rights. Her parents and her husband (played by Brooks Ryan)could not possibly disagree more with her “career,” which “progressed” from volunteer escort to directing the abortion clinic in Bryan, Texas. But, just as the pro-lifers outside Abby’s clinic who loved her over to the other side of the fence, they did not cut themselves off from her.
There are a number of astounding scenes in Unplanned that would move any audience, regardless of where they stood on abortion when they entered the theatre.
The movie begins with a scene set in 2009 where Abby is called into assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion. Incredible as it seems, all the time she had been involved with Planned Parenthood she had never witnessed an abortion. “She watched in horror as a 13 week baby fought for, and ultimately lost, its life at the hand of the abortionist,” is the way it’s described what happened on her webpage.
But it’s how the baby lost its life. The abortionist needs the ultrasound to be able to grasp the baby’s extremities, pulling her apart until the powerful force of a vacuum sucks out the entirety of what remains of her corpse.
Nothing sensationalized, nothing inaccurate. It is so reminiscent for us oldsters of “The Silent Scream,” and is even more disturbing because the baby vanishes—poof —into a blood-soaked canister. But all that Abby had been able to deny, to bury, to obfuscated also vanishes—poof. She is emotionally shredded by what she sees.
Anyone would be discomforted (to put it mildly) by that.
Then there is the scene of Abby’s own chemically induced abortion. It is an open-secret that RU-486/medical/medication abortions can be unbelievably bloody and painful almost beyond bearing.
When she steps in the shower to wash herself off, small chunks of the baby fall out. She must pick them up and dispose of them in the toilet. You can only imagine what is going through her mind—and her heart.
Nothing sensationalized, nothing inaccurate. This is the truth behind the marketing of chemical abortions as nothing more than a “heavy period.” There is a reason dozens of women have died and there have been thousands of “adverse events.”
But for me the reason no one could ever call Unplanned propaganda is the scene in which Cheryl, the then-PPFA clinic director, calls Abby into the POC room (Products of Conception).
Played by Robia Scott, she is moving up the corporate ladder and wants to confirm what she thinks she already knows—that Abby is a worthy successor.
When Abby walks in there is a fully-formed tiny baby on the table. Cheryl hands Abby a small surgical instrument to lift up the dead baby’s arm. Cheryl tells her everyone else who came and saw the baby cried.
Not Abby. She looks not with horror at the dead baby but with fascination. Cheryl can now confidently hand the reins over the Abby. She is one…of… them.
I know nothing about Ashley Bratcher as an actress. But I cannot think of anyone who could have brought more depth to her portrayal.
Abby is riddled with guilt. She is close to falling apart emotionally. How can she be forgiven for her role in tens of thousands of abortions? Doug, her husband, tells her God can forgive if she asks for forgiveness.
Because He’s God, that’s how–and why.
There is a road to redemption, a lesson that women who’ve aborted and come to deeply regret their decision have learned.
When the Planned Parenthood clinic closes, there is a ceremony outside that celebrates its closure. This time together allows women to place flowers between the spires in the fence to remember the babies lost.
It is a scene that anyone—even a pro-choicer—would find heart-rending.
You will never regret seeing Unplanned. If you’ve seen it once, be sure to bring others and see it again.
It is a story of an awakening that should be shared with all Americans.