Unplanned: A movie Planned Parenthood doesn't want you to see

In New York City, the One World Trade Center was lit up pink to celebrate the state's new abortion-till-birth legislation — a moral travesty that wouldn't be tolerated, much less fêted, if the movie Unplanned were given the same publicity and distribution as a typical Hollywood film.  But just as evildoers seek the night to hide their violence, so also Planned Parenthood and its fervent supporters make every effort to conceal the true nature of their enterprise — a "procedure" whose soul-wrenching character it conceals not only from "clients," but also from seasoned staff members who can work for years without witnessing the live ultrasound-guided reality the organization promotes with infomercial zeal.

The very first scene of Unplanned depicts just such an abortion witnessed by the film's true-to-life protagonist, Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), who by that time had become the director of Planned Parenthood's clinic in Bryan, Texas.  Viewing the "evacuation" of a "fetus" from his mother's womb in real time was the final crack in the emotional dam of this prominent and passionate "right to choose" advocate.  Johnson's flashback journey from inherited pro-life sentiments to that final moment of moral crisis constitutes the bulk of this well crafted drama.  It's a narrative that the "culture of death" hopes to bury — as indicated by the numerous advertising boycotts and predictably negative reviews the film has received.  After all, what could be more disconcerting to a debased culture than a story about someone who was actually honored by Planned Parenthood and then joined "the enemy"?

For many viewers, the most poignant scene in the movie Gosnell was court testimony given by a respected doctor who reluctantly admitted that the practice typically employed at a major Philadelphia hospital when a fetus unexpectedly emerges alive from a late-term abortion was simply to give him "comfort care" until he "passed" — a practice recently described sympathetically by Virginia's pediatrician governor.  The comment in Gosnell's trial illustrates the similarity between legal late-term abortions and actions a jury unanimously deemed murderous.  By contrast, Unplanned focuses exclusively on the well obscured nature of legal abortions up to 24 weeks as well as the business model of Planned Parenthood, a "non-profit" whose substantial revenues depend on the pregnancy-ending segment of this well funded enterprise.

Though Unplanned was produced on a six-million-dollar shoestring budget, the acting and storyline are generally compelling and not, as one might fear, preachy or melodramatic.  Mentions of "God" are sparse, and the movie provides, of necessity, a plausible explanation for Abby Johnson's passionate devotion to Planned Parenthood prior to her traumatic change of heart — namely, the ruse that she was making abortions rarer by helping girls with "crisis pregnancies."  Additionally, Abby's all-female co-workers are portrayed as good-natured friends with one exception: the director of the clinic, Cheryl (Robia Scott), who later selects Abby as her successor.  Cheryl becomes the human face of Planned Parenthood's abortion-driven profitability, encouraging facility directors at one organizational meeting to up their abortion numbers as if they were fast food managers pushing burgers and fries.

On the other side of the moral equation, pro-life advocates aren't always portrayed in a positive light.  Toward the beginning of the film, one protestor clutching a Bible belligerently insults women entering the clinic on the other side of a wrought iron fence.  Later in the film, a television newscast at a restaurant announces the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in a house of worship.  While the event understandably triggers fear and trepidation on the part of Abby and her family, there is no attempt to justify the killing or to vilify Tiller.  Naturally, most of the pro-life advocates and protesters in the film (and two in particular) are portrayed in a positive light — but with more moral justification than Hollywood regularly typecasts these same individuals as hateful zealots.

Overwhelmingly, the movie's dramatic poignancy is a function of Ashley Bratcher's superb portrayal of Abby Johnson alongside the honest depiction of events commonly associated with abortion.  A scene showing the often experienced effects of the commonly administered RU-486 abortion pill is enough to make one's stomach turn and might have explained why the movie was rated R.  The same goes for another abortion-associated trauma: a punctured uterus.  What isn't defensible is the fact that many films with vastly more blood and violence than Unplanned receive a PG-13 rating.  Consequently, it seems that the topic of abortion, not blood and trauma, was the crucial factor for the film's R rating, a label that produced this absurd circumstance:  a fifteen-year-old can get an actual abortion without a parent's consent but can't see a movie about abortion without adult supervision.  But then what else would one expect from a culture desperate to hide its depravity or even to present its moral decadence in the virtuous wrapping of "choice" and "reproductive rights" — the same deceptive garb that conceals all the above terms enclosed in "not what it seems" quotation marks?

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is available on Kindle.

In New York City, the One World Trade Center was lit up pink to celebrate the state's new abortion-till-birth legislation — a moral travesty that wouldn't be tolerated, much less fêted, if the movie Unplanned were given the same publicity and distribution as a typical Hollywood film.  But just as evildoers seek the night to hide their violence, so also Planned Parenthood and its fervent supporters make every effort to conceal the true nature of their enterprise — a "procedure" whose soul-wrenching character it conceals not only from "clients," but also from seasoned staff members who can work for years without witnessing the live ultrasound-guided reality the organization promotes with infomercial zeal.

The very first scene of Unplanned depicts just such an abortion witnessed by the film's true-to-life protagonist, Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), who by that time had become the director of Planned Parenthood's clinic in Bryan, Texas.  Viewing the "evacuation" of a "fetus" from his mother's womb in real time was the final crack in the emotional dam of this prominent and passionate "right to choose" advocate.  Johnson's flashback journey from inherited pro-life sentiments to that final moment of moral crisis constitutes the bulk of this well crafted drama.  It's a narrative that the "culture of death" hopes to bury — as indicated by the numerous advertising boycotts and predictably negative reviews the film has received.  After all, what could be more disconcerting to a debased culture than a story about someone who was actually honored by Planned Parenthood and then joined "the enemy"?

For many viewers, the most poignant scene in the movie Gosnell was court testimony given by a respected doctor who reluctantly admitted that the practice typically employed at a major Philadelphia hospital when a fetus unexpectedly emerges alive from a late-term abortion was simply to give him "comfort care" until he "passed" — a practice recently described sympathetically by Virginia's pediatrician governor.  The comment in Gosnell's trial illustrates the similarity between legal late-term abortions and actions a jury unanimously deemed murderous.  By contrast, Unplanned focuses exclusively on the well obscured nature of legal abortions up to 24 weeks as well as the business model of Planned Parenthood, a "non-profit" whose substantial revenues depend on the pregnancy-ending segment of this well funded enterprise.

Though Unplanned was produced on a six-million-dollar shoestring budget, the acting and storyline are generally compelling and not, as one might fear, preachy or melodramatic.  Mentions of "God" are sparse, and the movie provides, of necessity, a plausible explanation for Abby Johnson's passionate devotion to Planned Parenthood prior to her traumatic change of heart — namely, the ruse that she was making abortions rarer by helping girls with "crisis pregnancies."  Additionally, Abby's all-female co-workers are portrayed as good-natured friends with one exception: the director of the clinic, Cheryl (Robia Scott), who later selects Abby as her successor.  Cheryl becomes the human face of Planned Parenthood's abortion-driven profitability, encouraging facility directors at one organizational meeting to up their abortion numbers as if they were fast food managers pushing burgers and fries.

On the other side of the moral equation, pro-life advocates aren't always portrayed in a positive light.  Toward the beginning of the film, one protestor clutching a Bible belligerently insults women entering the clinic on the other side of a wrought iron fence.  Later in the film, a television newscast at a restaurant announces the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller in a house of worship.  While the event understandably triggers fear and trepidation on the part of Abby and her family, there is no attempt to justify the killing or to vilify Tiller.  Naturally, most of the pro-life advocates and protesters in the film (and two in particular) are portrayed in a positive light — but with more moral justification than Hollywood regularly typecasts these same individuals as hateful zealots.

Overwhelmingly, the movie's dramatic poignancy is a function of Ashley Bratcher's superb portrayal of Abby Johnson alongside the honest depiction of events commonly associated with abortion.  A scene showing the often experienced effects of the commonly administered RU-486 abortion pill is enough to make one's stomach turn and might have explained why the movie was rated R.  The same goes for another abortion-associated trauma: a punctured uterus.  What isn't defensible is the fact that many films with vastly more blood and violence than Unplanned receive a PG-13 rating.  Consequently, it seems that the topic of abortion, not blood and trauma, was the crucial factor for the film's R rating, a label that produced this absurd circumstance:  a fifteen-year-old can get an actual abortion without a parent's consent but can't see a movie about abortion without adult supervision.  But then what else would one expect from a culture desperate to hide its depravity or even to present its moral decadence in the virtuous wrapping of "choice" and "reproductive rights" — the same deceptive garb that conceals all the above terms enclosed in "not what it seems" quotation marks?

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is available on Kindle.