post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Unplanned (2019; R)
Directors: Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon
Major Themes: Abortion, Faith, Life
Synopsis: After working for Planned Parenthood for eight years, Johnson witnesses her first abortion—and her life is irrevocably changed.
Though I’ve wanted to watch Unplanned since I first heard about it coming out, that didn’t happen until just recently. There was at least one showing three hours away from me, but I wasn’t able to make that work—and unwilling to make the drive by myself—so it wasn’t until someone at church suggested we watch it at his place that I actually got the chance. I watched Ray Comfort’s 180 before—a very good film, although I’ve always wondered how much it would touch some people. Half-way through Unplanned, though, I knew this was a medium many would be able to utilize—it’s interesting and engaging, and although many portions are horrible, it’s presented in such a way that the message is clear and easily understood.
Although she was raised in a pro-life family, Abby Johnson wasn’t sure where she stood. So when she saw a presentation by Planned Parenthood about the services they give to women, and decided it was a good thing, she volunteered at her local center. Soon, she was given a job as a counselor, and eventually that led to her becoming the clinic director. Through part of that time, she had two of her own abortions, but she never made the connection between her own experiences and what she was encouraging other women to do (and at times, had to lie to other women about). Everything changed the day she was called in to help with an abortion, however.
Unplanned is an intense movie. I’ve watched R-rated films before, and although I don’t appreciate aspects of them, sometimes the stories cannot be told any other way—sometimes, real life can end up being R-rated without our wishes being consulted. For Abby, that was exactly what happened. God moved in her heart in a powerful way the day she watched a baby die, and from then on, she knew she couldn’t continue where she was—something needed to change, and she brought that something to God. Of course, after that, she had massive amounts of grief to work through—not only for the two children she had been responsible for, but all the others she had counseled and encouraged the wrong way. I loved how her husband was so supportive of her through all of that, believing and praying for her even when she was still working at the clinic with blinded eyes.
You know, God works in an amazing way. According to the story, both Abby’s parents and her second husband believed firmly that a baby—from the moment of conception—is a human being, and couldn’t agree with her career choice. But they kept praying, for years and years, trusting the Lord would get through to her. Those outside the fence kept praying as well, trusting that the Lord would work His will, even when they couldn’t see what He was doing. And, eventually, His actions did become clear—the reminder to keep praying, despite not having results, was probably the most encouraging part of this movie to all of us!
I think Unplanned would be great as a way to touch others with the pro-life stance. I’d almost go so far as to say that every teenager, mid-teens and up, should watch it. It’s horrible, and eye-opening, and terrible, and amazing. The consequences for sin are shown here—even if they may not be felt right away, it does catch up with you eventually. I believe this would give young people pause to think about possible consequences for their actions, as well as perhaps saving babies already conceived and encouraging others to fight for the lives of the unborn.
One caution I would have is that the way abortion is portrayed here could tend to make young people consider childbirth as a very scary, painful thing—which, yes, it can be, as a result of the fall—but it doesn’t equally show the joy that comes after a normal birth. That isn’t the point of the movie, but that is something to perhaps discuss.
Recommended, even though it’s a difficult story. God’s power and working were shown so beautifully here, and I think it followed the true story fairly well, too. I loved the ending—so bittersweet. It’s not the kind that’s easy to watch, but sometimes things like this can be important, too, in helping us remember what really is most important to God.
WARNING: This movie is not for anyone younger than teens, and I would recommend it only for mid-teens and up, although this is something that affects younger people, so it could be used as a good cautionary/hope story. Parental guidance necessary. Since I watched this movie at a friend’s house, I was able to take notes of overall scenes, but not specific timings. In this case, though, there was so much that you couldn’t really skip it and still get the main message of the movie.
TRIGGER WARNING: Some scenes in this movie could be very difficult even for adults to watch. Sin isn’t pretty. Read the below paragraph at your own discretion.
The first scene is showing an abortion—fairly graphic; you are shown the ultrasound as it happens. The word “hell” is used there, and not too much later, someone says “d— it”. The main character’s past loose life is mentioned, and soon after she has an abortion; portions of that are shown. Somewhere in there, there is a kissing scene, and later there is a mention that a man was cheating on his wife. Later, the main character is shown during her second abortion, this time a pill-induced one, and she is shown in labor with lots of blood (another graphic scene). There is a remarriage. While working at Planned Parenthood, different characters were forced to lie many different times, and at one point the main character is shown and handles an aborted baby (part of this is shown in the movie). There is another graphic scene involving a botched abortion with lots of blood—the patient barely survived. A character is in labor in one scene. There is a mention of an abortion doctor who was shot in the head. Later, the same abortion scene as at the beginning is shown again (not as much detail the second time), and later a character is telling someone else about it. Characters are celebrating Halloween near the end. Two phrases were used near the end that I didn’t appreciate: “kick some —” and “sweat like the d——”.
Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Keywords: Abortion, Faith, Life, Autobiography, Christian Non-fiction, North America