The full title of the book that the movie based itself on is, “Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line.”
Our children are 13, 15, and 17 years old; we chose not to let them see it because there were four graphic scenes that they would not want to see. Perhaps your children would want to see it, but after talking to them about the movie, they were clear to us that they did not want to go.
Our children are pro-life, so the movie would not have altered their worldview on the sanctity of life. The four graphic scenes were Abby’s first abortion, the day after her abortion, a scene showing a post-abortive baby, and a lady who had to go back into surgery because of post-operative complications.
All of these scenes were bloody, though not on the level of Saving Private Ryan or nearly any other modern-made war movie. These scenes are vital to the movie because they reflect the acuteness of the problem with taking a child’s life.
As a college student, Abby Johnson was asking questions at the Planned Parenthood (PP) booth during a “work fair” at her university. She did not know about Planned Parenthood but was intrigued by the “rights of women” movement.
She decided to work for PP after she graduated from college, which she did for eight years. She also had two abortions before her view on pro-choice v. pro-life changed.
Eventually, you married a man (Doug), who was pro-life, and one of the more remarkable things about this movie is how their worldviews contrasted with each other on this fundamental point, but he demonstrated his love for her.
During her stint at PP, Abby was interacting with a pro-life group—40 Days of Life—who prayed and “counseled” those who drove up to her facility in Bryan, Texas. This group was pivotal in Abby’s conversion to a pro-life presupposition.
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The Visual Effect – Knowing abortion happens and watching an abortion happen are two different things. The visual impact was not something we wanted our children to see at this time. There are sharp differences between reading about something and seeing it acted out on a screen.
Folks who saw The Passion of the Christ movie had a similar experience. You have to consider the maturity of your child, as well as his/her ability to process graphic content. (R rated movies are allowed to the teens under 17 accompanied with a person who is older than 16.)
Loving Confrontation – It was stunning to hear the dialogue between pro-life advocates working outside an abortion clinic. They have a bold responsibility that takes an amazing amount of grace, patience, and the ability to resist the temptation toward self-righteousness—a greater than, better than attitude.
(Then there are those who do this poorly, which they showed briefly, as they shouted harsh truths at those seeking abortions. Note to Evangelists Everywhere: If you want to win me to your cause, do not yell at me, telling me how awful I am.)
Low Commitment – Abby was not so much a committed pro-choice individual as she was pragmatic in her choices to abort her babies. It was not convenient to give birth, and there was an option for her to abort.
This point is vital when interacting with women considering abortion. They are not awful people, but are self-reliant, as they are looking out for what they believe is best for them. It is possible to have a civil conversation with a pregnant mom and help them to realize there are other options.
Family Dynamics – One of the more intriguing things about this movie were the inter-family dynamics. Abby’s parents were not activist, but they were pro-life. Doug, her husband, was also pro-life.
The family showed much patience and kindness toward Abby, though they strongly disagreed with her life choices. The power of prayer was most evident with those who disagree with her, which should encourage all of us who have relatives making poor choices.
Pieces Of Children – One of the saddest parts of the movie was P.O.C. room in the PP facility. P.O.C. means “parts of conception,” though some folks within PP call it “Pieces Of Children.” The purpose of this room is to “put the baby back together” again, post-abortion. They want to make sure that they aborted all of the baby and that there are no remains left in the mother.
Selfish Ambition – One of the running ironies in the movie is how PP is a job that provides individuals with opportunities to have financial success, as well as corporate ladder climbing, self-fulfillment, status, power, and all the other “perks” that come with the American dream. In this way, these workers are no different from any other corporate climber, except they kill babies.
Abby’s boss put pressure on her to abort her child because it would interfere with her work ambitions. Ironically, it was during this time that Abby was tabbed by her boss to become the head of the local facility. Her boss was moving up the ladder, and Abby showed great ambition and qualification to replace her.
The interplay between career aspirations and the work they do were apparent. Even though “regular abortion workers” are working their normal job, the tension about job loss is real, regardless of what they are doing. It takes a lot of courage to quit a job when that job supports you. There are always sacrifices when your principles become more critical than pragmatics.
Reality Bites – One of the “turning points” in Abby’s career was a botched abortion. Abby walked into the recovery room, seeing a mom bleed on the floor. Abby rushed her back to surgery but was ordered not to call an ambulance because of the protestors outside. They could not permit the publicity.
It was sobering to think about all the “back alley” shenanigans that happen at these abortion mills. Abby’s panicking caused concern for the lady in charge, as she did not believe that Abby was “hard” enough to run a facility.
Hardening the Conscience – It’s hard to imagine how calloused a person has to be to convince themselves that they are doing good work. As one abortion provider said, she was doing God’s work by helping women kill their babies.
It was a warning to me to think about how I can alter my “inner voice” when I don’t want to change or think about the things I should not be doing. My soul was sad about the blindness of these workers.
Another aspect of the “conscience dilemma” is how you present yourself to family and friends. Abby “had” to lie to her daughter about what she did, which was “right” according to her sideways world.
Whether you should watch this movie is between you and the Lord, (and your spouse or parent, if applicable). I highly recommend it. I’m glad I saw it, and will probably view it again when it comes out on DVD.
This movie would also be perfect for a small group to view and then discuss it afterward. It will become a “go to” documentary on the subject of pro-life. It was well done, including the humanizing of the pro-choice community. It was not antagonistic toward them though it did not compromise the hard truths that we all must hear.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).