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The new movie Unplanned, based on the 2010 book by the same name, tells the gripping tale of former Planned Parenthood (PPFA) director Abby Johnson’s pro-life conversion. Although some of its elements don’t sit right, the film exposes anew the foul practices of the nation’s leading abortion business.
Johnson’s story: A belief she’s helping women, she says, and ambition lead her from PPFA volunteer to director of the abortion center in Bryan, Texas. In a voiceover, Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), a churchgoer, claims she was “naïve.” For example, she receives PPFA’s 2008 “Employee of the Year” award but questions a directive to increase the number of abortions.
“Abortion has never been my priority,” she informs her peers. The film underscores her good-heartedness.
Local pro-lifers befriend and pray for Johnson. After eight years with PPFA (and two abortions and a divorce), she assists in an abortion for the first time, she says. She watches as a “13-weeker” disappears from the ultrasound monitor, while bloody tissue gushes through tubes into a collection bottle. (The R-rated film has disturbing images and four expletives.) The horrible sight causes Johnson to run out of the building. (In a 2018 tweet, though, Johnson said she had “pieced together thousands of fetal parts after abortions.”) She subsequently resigns, and later weeps for the 22,000 children who died under her watch.
It took courage to tell this story, and Bratcher gives a superbly moving performance. Still, some details—factual and dramatic—puzzled me. Johnson’s staff is chipper, her workplace a lively atmosphere; I’ve been inside enough abortion centers to find this depiction peculiar. Johnson’s parents and second husband denounce her day job yet praise her promotions—again, odd. The Christian pop soundtrack fits until Mandisa sings “Overcomer” during an extra-busy schedule of abortions hours before a hurricane hits. Perhaps the irony was intended.
In all, though, Planned Parenthood comes off as money-grubbing and heartless, so the film gets that right. Even better, Johnson learns that God forgives and redeems.