“It wasn’t just tissue, just cells. That was a human baby fighting for life!”
Unplanned. Due to it’s sensitive subject matter of abortion, it’s been called propaganda… political sway in ideology as Roe v. Wade is challenged by a more conservative Supreme Court…the battle for the sanctity of human life.
Whatever you decide to call Unplanned, the scope of viewers this film has reached has sparked well varied experiences from all across the country as well as Canada and the Philippines…like any controversial film would. So controversial because it’s so common. Almost every viewer has been affected by abortion and now the home video release of Unplanned reaches even more audiences as this heated debate continues.
The debate comes down to life and death from the choice to have a baby or not. Audiences don’t have to know the people, organizations or viewpoints among these issues. The film explains the life journey of Abby Johnson well as audiences follow her journey from being involved in Planned Parenthood to the opposite spectrum (her current work with the group And Then There Were None has already played a role in 525 abortion workers leaving the industry and is now sending a copy of this movie to each one of the nearly 800 clinics across the United States).
Directors/screenwriters Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon and their crew utilize flashbacks throughout the plot to tell Abby’s story that begins in Texas in 2001. Ashley Bratcher portrays Johnson who, at this time, was Planned Parenthood’s youngest clinic director. This status and her considerable efforts to help others shows audiences where Abby’s heart is – she wants to help.
The plots also covers Abby’s family and personal life from her parents to her first husband Mark (Alexander Kane) and second husband Doug (Brooks Ryan). Audiences get plenty of perspective as Abby explains the inner workings of the clinic and medical elements like abortion drug RU-486.
Robia Scott portrays Abby’s boss Cheryl, a Planned Parenthood director while Jared Lotz and Emma Elle Roberts portray Shawn Carney and then fiancée Marilisa who are part of the 40 Days for Life, an anti-abortion group. Abby initially satisfies her boss and debates with this pair who constantly protest at Abby’s clinic.
“Your little baby has a beating heart, and she loves you with all of it,” says Marilisa to one of Abby’s patients. Audiences get a real sense of what Abby contends with every day at the clinic and the emotional tug of war between staff members and the nearby protesters. The story includes the ugly side of the largely peaceful protests, which keeps the subject matter fairly balanced so audiences get an objective view. “Hey, princess, does your daddy know that you’re here? Killing his little grandbaby right now? No matter what important things you do in life, you’re still gonna be a baby killer. And all this because you couldn’t keep your legs closed, ” says one protester to a young lady entering the clinic.
Things take a dramatic turn when Abby is called in to assist in an ultrasound-guided suction aspiration abortion at thirteen weeks gestation. This event changes her mind about abortion as Doug supports her. “I have been complicit in over 22,000 abortions. That is the weight of my guilt. How do I even begin to comprehend that?” she says to Doug.
In her new found support and work, Abby addresses the same women going into the clinic on the opposite side. “The truth is, they can get rid of your baby, but they can’t get rid of the memory of your baby. And neither can you. No matter how hard you try,” she says to one potential clinic patient.
The plot is a bit long and contains plenty of references (e.g. medical terminology, Bible verses like Psalm 139:13-14). The solid production values make the graphic content even more emotional and impactful as audiences see a lot of blood and characters clearly in pain and life-threatening situations.
Unplanned keeps their depictions balanced as they follow Abby’s life in a comprehensive and emotionally involving narrative that’s notable overdrawn and somewhat selective. The musical score by Stephen Blake Kanicka is subpar as Matthew West contributes the emotional title song.
Home video special features include the Save the Storks booklet with devotional, interviews with Abby Johnson, Making-Of Featurettes, Deleted Scenes & Trailers, and West’s official “Unplanned” music video.
This one-hour and 46 minute biographical drama comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and is rated R for some disturbing/bloody images. Pureflix’s first movie to be rated R by the MPAA.