I’ve always considered myself pro-life.
Even after falling away from the Catholic faith for a period of time, I understood that life begins at conception.
Seeing Unplanned at the movie’s red carpet premiere opened my eyes to a few hot-button abortion issues I hadn’t considered. The movie did its job–it got me thinking.
Unplanned is based on Abby Johnson’s true story of transformation.
She was a staunch abortion advocate and Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the Year. She is now a leading voice for the Pro-Life movement.
It’s important to understand that Unplanned is not a film bashing Planned Parenthood or abortion advocates. In the words of Unplanned producer Chris Jones, it “is not an ‘us vs. them’ story.”
The movie will shock many of you who may not know what exactly happens during an abortion procedure (the film depicts both the surgical approach and the at-home abortion pill method).
Knowing the gruesome facts prepared me for the scenes resulting in the film’s R rating.
But the interactions depicted between pro-life and pro-choice activists held the most weight for me.
The first few scenes of the movie depicts Abby Johnson (played by Ashley Bratcher) arriving for work at Planned Parenthood.
A crowd of pro-life activists greet her from the other side of their fenced parking lot. The movie frequently shows encounters between pro-life activists, Planned Parenthood’s patients and employees.
There’s a pro-lifer dressed as the grim reaper, others holding poster boards containing graphic images of aborted babies, and a group of pro-life protestors angrily shouting at women rushing into the clinic.
People claiming to be advocating for the dignity of human life beginning at conception call these distressed women murderers and tell them that they are going to Hell.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but this overbearing and offensive approach does not seem like the best tactic when trying to save an unborn child’s life and the mother carrying that child.
As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “Abortion is profoundly anti-women. Three-quarters of its victims are women: half the babies and all the mothers.” (National Prayer Breakfast, 1997)
Thankfully, the movie shows a different side of the pro-life movement–the part I’m proud to belong to.
The group of individuals from 40 Days for Life silently pray at the fence separating pro-life advocates from the Planned Parenthood clinic parking lot.
These pro-lifers maintain a loving approach. They strive to spark compassionate dialogue with women exiting their vehicles. They are respectful and approachable.
Spoiler alert: The 40 Days for Life pro-life movement led Abby Johnson to conversion!
Seeing the interactions between Planned Parenthood personnel and their prospective patients made me realize something that the pro-life movement could take from the pro-choice playbook.
Yes, you read that correctly. We can learn something from them.
In the majority of cases when a woman finds herself at a Planned Parenthood facility, she searches for compassion, understanding, and reassurance. And she finds it—or something like it.
Planned Parenthood employees do not greet unplanned pregnancies with disappointment, bombard the expectant mothers with questions, and they do not focus on criticizing women for having premarital sex (which is often the precursor for unplanned pregnancies).
Instead, they provide her with a warm smile and a solution.
Planned Parenthood’s go-to solution is one that eliminates life growing inside the womb and leaves countless post-abortive women like Abby Johnson with haunting, lifelong scars. They capitalize on vulnerability with a sales pitch for abortion.
Generally speaking, however, what if we approached each unplanned pregnancy in the same way?
What if we shared our solution instead of bombarding women with questions and reacting to their circumstance with shame and judgement?
What if the entire pro-life movement aligned with a response consistent with God’s message of love and mercy?
I encourage you to see Unplanned and reflect on your role in the pro-life movement.
I also encourage you to pray for women contemplating abortion, the conversion of Planned Parenthood employees, for post-abortive women filled with grief and regret, and for Abby Johnson as she continues sharing her powerful story with the world.