“Wow. That’s quite a lineup,” my friend said, as we took our place at the end of the queue snaking down the street from the theatre. Over three hundred people packed the place that evening, every ticket sold. They came to view Unplanned, a movie about one of the most controversial social issues of our time. A film that has shattered critics’ box office predictions. A show many in high places would have liked to ban. A film about abortion.
Unplanned tells the story of Abby Johnson, the youngest Planned Parenthood director in the organization’s history. In her career, her clinic facilitated over 22,000 abortions. She had two herself, one surgical, and one drug-induced. The movie, based on her memoir by the same name, portrays her miraculous transition from believing abortion was simply the discarding of a collection of cells (part of her body, and, she believed, her right to dispose of) to a firm conviction otherwise.
After seeing, via ultrasound, a pre-born child squirming helplessly to avoid the killing saline solution, Abby was struck with the unavoidable truth: In God’s eyes, abortion is murder. Crossing the moral boundaries he put in place (for our own benefit) harms us and those we sin against—spiritually, emotionally and often physically.
The marquee didn’t advertise Unplanned that evening. The showing was considered a private viewing, the theatre having been rented by a local pro-life group that sacrificed time, energy and resources to keep truth in the public eye.
I ache for those who live with abortion’s consequences. Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy are constant and free for all who, like Abby, genuinely seek his forgiveness. Today, he’s using Abby and her story to rescue countless babies and help thousands of abortion workers to transition out of a corrupt industry that specializes in hiding truth from vulnerable young parents. She has addressed audiences in high places and low; people from every spectrum of society all the way to the US Congress.
Abby calls herself pro-life for all of life. Numerous critics have tried unsuccessfully to discredit her—particularly those convinced that abortion is a cherished right. But her life speaks truth. In a gently humourous turn, Abby and her husband, passionate Catholics, now have eight children. As I write, she is at the southern US border, volunteering with a Catholic relief organization as they unload a huge semi packed with life-giving aids for distribution to refugees held there. Diapers for the babies, water, and other concrete assistance, where so many have only offered lip service. Most people watching the replay of Abby’s story that evening already held pro-life beliefs. Largely, the film preaches to the converted. But those viewers leave challenged to speak up. To lovingly (that’s vital) remind each other and those around us that God created human life. Meticulously. Miraculously. Fearfully and wonderfully, as Psalm 139 says. And that as a society, we must do better and more to make preserving the tiniest, most vulnerable human lives among us the easiest choice of all.