‘Unplanned’ — Movie review

A scene from the movie ‘Unplanned’.

Andrea Dawn Combs of Africa Christian Action reviews the movie, Unplanned which launches in select theatres in South Africa, Namibia and Zambia on Friday

Unplanned is the powerful, true story of Abby Johnson, who was enchanted by the notion of working for Planned Parenthood, believing their goal is to help women and prevent crisis pregnancies, to “make abortion rare.” The directors waste no time in diving into the horrifying truth of what an abortion is. In fact, the film begins with the warning, “My story isn’t an easy one to hear. I think I probably ought to warn you of that up front.”

Based on the Unplanned memoir by Abby Johnson, the movie is written and directed by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman (the writers/co-producers of God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2) and is distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment.

Abby’s story begins when she was recruited as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood after attending a job fair, Abby was persuaded when the young woman promoting the corporation said: “It’s hard to believe that there are still some people out there that want to tell us what we can and can’t do with our body.” Enthused with her new calling, Abby explained, “I left campus that day as a proud champion of women in crisis.” Despite having been raised in a pro-life, Christian family, Abby Johnson was drawn in to working for Planned Parenthood, believing she was able to make a difference, advocating for women’s rights.

Little did she know that choice would charter the course of her life. Abby rose through the ranks and went from being a volunteer to a full-fledged employee and, eventually, became director of the local Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas. It took her eight years to see the truth of what she was truly enabling in her position as director of the Planned Parenthood clinic.

The story reaches its apex when, one day, Abby was asked to do something she had never done before: assist with the ultrasound during an abortion procedure. As the tagline of the movie indicates, what she saw changed everything. After all those years believing she was helping women, she realised with horror that she had been taught to lie to them. She had been making sales for the Planned Parenthood abortion industry, rather than saving lives – which had been her impetus in the first place.

Although Abby’s story is not an easy one to watch, it truly forces viewers to confront the raw reality of abortion from a unique and unprecedented viewpoint. While the film certainly doesn’t condemn women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, Unplanned exposes the cracks and crevices of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry in a way that has never before been done.

There are also honest depictions of the different types of people who demonstrate outside of clinics. There are those who silently pray for and love the women who go to the clinics, and there are those who yell, shame and blame the women in embarrassing ways. The movie clearly distinguishes the divergent groups and approaches.

Being a mother of two myself, and having experienced a miscarriage of my own, I was drawn into the story in a deeply personal way. Although I’ve never had an abortion, the rawness of watching a woman lose her baby in her bathroom was sobering and painful. Yet, it brought to light a dark truth that has been hidden for far too long: abortion is not a simple, unemotional, cut-and-dry process as countless men and women have been taught to believe.

Knowing intimately how it feels to have your baby develop and grow inside your womb, the love and emotional connection you feel for your child, and the fiercely “mama bear-like” protective instinct that comes along with being pregnant is undeniable. Women who have lost their babies either involuntarily through miscarriage, or willingly through an abortion, know that loss doesn’t come without heartache.

At no point does Unplanned shame women who have had abortions in the past. The motivation of the film is to save the lives of unborn babies. The movie gives us an unfiltered, brutally honest glimpse into what happens to a baby in the womb during an abortion. It was this gut-wrenching reality, once Abby saw it in action, that completely transformed her perspective on abortion and exposed the truth of her role there as director.

In an increasingly promiscuous society, this issue of crisis pregnancies and abortion has never been more relevant. Unplanned challenges us in an undeniable way. The movie touches on nearly every scenario imaginable as it relates to crisis pregnancies and abortion. The powerful score carries the emotions of the story from scene to scene. The artful storytelling pulls on heartstrings and will leave an impression on the minds of all who leave the movie theatre. There will certainly be very few dry eyes in the theatre, if any at all.

Unplanned may be an American-made movie, but the facts of the film are just as relevant here in South Africa. Since 1997, when abortion was legalised in South Africa, an estimated 1.7 million babies have lost their lives by abortion – with taxpayers’ money. In fact, every year we lose more pre-born babies to abortion than the combined death toll of car accidents and crime.1 This is a staggering statistic that is impossible to comprehend. These 1.7 million souls were knit together in God’s image (Psalm 139:13) and they never even had a chance to live outside of their mother’s womb.

After nearly a year of petition and prayer, this vivid pro-life film will be released this Friday, February 28, at a number of Ster Kinekor and NuMetro movie theatres in South Africa, Namibia and Zambia. See here for theatre listings where Unplanned will be released. It is vital to support the release of this movie as we stand together for the right to life of unborn babies and to encourage Ster Kinekor and NuMetro to keep this film in circulation.

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