As I watched Unplanned, I was drawn into the story of Abby Johnson as she rose from an eager college student volunteer to a leader of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, TX. Based on her book, the movie walks through Abby’s early career – from her volunteering to client counselor and eventually Director. Interwoven is the story of her own abortions, her relationship with her parents, two marriages, motherhood and a fierce determination to advocate for women’s rights, no matter the cost.
The heart of Unplanned reflects the heartache of abortion. It shows the desperation of women who feel abortion is their only choice. It reveals the intentions of some abortion clinic staff who believe they are offering their best by giving women a way to escape their unexpected pregnancy. And it displays the power of prayer in the faithful advocates who prayed for many years for Abby, her staff and those they served.
On her first day volunteering, Abby met clients at their cars, escorting them in while distracting from those protesting and praying outside the fence surrounding the clinic. The clinic staff knew that a woman could be distracted enough to change her mind – so Abby was given one instruction: “make sure your voice is the loudest they hear.”
In Unplanned she says: “My cause became my career”, and she would go on to dedicate the next eight years of her life believing she was supporting women by counseling them that it was best to choose abortion instead of empowering them to choose life.
In her time at Planned Parenthood, she oversaw 22,000 abortions. She proudly won the Employee of the Year award just months before her eyes would be opened to the reality of the industry she so fervently embraced.
Through her abortion counsel she had ushered thousands into the backrooms of her clinic. She had never assisted in one herself until an abortion doctor ask that she guide the sonogram wand on the image of a 13-week baby during an abortion. Abby watched as the baby fought for his life and lost.
That day she walked out of her clinic and into the Coalition for Life office across the street. Ultimately, she found freedom from her past through redemption in Christ and people who responded with love, grace and a willingness to help her walk away and start over.
Unplanned is a movie about how God changed one heart and mind about abortion – a story that has led nearly 500 abortion workers out of the industry. Though she cannot change her past, through Unplanned Abby will make an impact on the future. Ironically, the advice she received her first day at the clinic has been exactly what Abby has used to change the tide of abortion in our country.
She has made sure her voice has been one of the loudest to be heard.
This time, her voice is helping deliver abortion clinic staff, it’s pointing pregnant moms towards life choices and protecting the lives of unborn babies.
She is reaching the other side, too. An abortion supporter who saw Unplanned wrote: “… it challenged my thinking entirely… I’m at a loss because this was fundamental to my belief system, and now I find it insupportable. As a woman, I cannot ever again claim to be pro-woman and stand in favor of abortion. I’m out.” (Em Green, “Unplanned Movie Review” Variety.com 3/29/19)