Unplanned—A Pro-Life Movie, Rated-R

Abby Johnson stared at the black and white ultrasound image. The tiny baby on the monitor was so perfect and beautiful. Suddenly, something else appeared on the screen. It looked foreign and out of place. Abby didn’t want to look but she could not pull her eyes away from the image. As the abortion doctor turned on the suction, the baby, once so perfect and beautiful, disappeared as he was pulled from the haven of his mother’s womb.

After seeing an ultrasound-guided abortion, Abby Johnson left her position as the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas to become a pro-life advocate.

Desiring to help and empower women, Abby had worked at Planned Parenthood for years. She had never liked abortion; her hope was to make it rare. But she believed that abortion was a woman’s right and as such needed to be made available.

As she stood there, in the operating room, however, she finally saw the truth about abortion for the first time…she was working in an industry that was killing thousands of babies every day. As the director of an abortion clinic, she was responsible for the deaths of thousands.

Appalled, Abby left the clinic she had loved and diligently worked at for the last eight years. In the process, she lost friends, her reputation was damaged and she was taken to court by Planned Parenthood. Her life was turned upside-down, but she knew she was now on the right side, able at last to find healing and freedom.

Too often, we look at people who work in the abortion industry and think they are cruel and heartless. Abby was neither. Her desire was simply to help women in distress. She was not evil; she was deceived.

Abby’s testimony reminds me that I should not look at people in the abortion industry as the enemy but rather as lost souls who need light, hope, and help.

Abby’s story was first shared in her book, Unplanned. It is an incredibly personal look into her life, in which she is vulnerable and openly shares her struggles and pain. Unplanned is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone.

A movie based on this book is scheduled to hit theatres on March 29, 2019. The movie shares Abby’s journey and tells the truth about abortion.

The producers of this pro-life movie were surprised to receive an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They had hoped for a PG13-rating.

The MPAA explained that the R-rating was given because of *“some disturbing/bloody images.”

Cary Solomon, one of the film’s co-writers and co-directors, stated, *“We have three scenes in the film which directly address abortion, and the MPAA objected to all three. They specifically made mention of objection to grainy, black-and-white sonogram images that were part of one of the scenes. It was clear that any meaningful treatment of the issue was going to be objectionable.”

The MPAA’s greatest objection was to the scene depicting an ultrasound-guided abortion. The movie shows the ultrasound screen on which the unborn child is clearly visible. The baby is moving and his heart is beating. Then, as the doctor turns on the suction machine he suddenly disappears—pulled from his mother’s womb.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, who played the doctor in the scene, performed around 1,200 abortions before becoming pro-life. He stated, *“The portrayal of a live, moving fetus disappearing is very accurate. You’re watching an abortion. It’s an accurate view of what’s happening. It’s disturbing if you recognize it’s a human life.”

This scene itself is not graphic. You see a grainy black and white ultrasound image of a child and then that child disappears. It’s only disturbing because we know the reality of what is taking place.

If Americans find the simulation of abortion to be so disturbing that we give a movie an R-rating solely for that reason, shouldn’t we be more disturbed by the fact that the real thing is happening more than 2,900 times a day in the United States alone?

Other Scenes to be Aware of:

Early in the movie, Abby has a chemical abortion using RU-486. As commonly takes place, she experiences extreme cramping, bleeding, and pain. The movie shows her in the bathroom with blood dripping down her legs.

After an abortion is performed, clinic workers piece together the unborn child to make sure they successfully removed all the body parts from the mother’s womb. This is a regular part of abortion procedures because the woman may become extremely ill if her uterus is not fully cleaned out. In one scene, Abby bends over a table and looks at an aborted child, whose body is briefly shown.

There are a couple of scenes in which a protester standing outside the clinic is holding an image of an aborted child but the camera never fully focuses on it.

There are also about seven scenes where a four-letter, curse word is used.

Directors Reaction to the R-rating

Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman who co-wrote and co-directed Unplanned, wrote, *“We consider the MPAA’s current standards to be deeply flawed, insofar as they allowed scenes of remarkably graphic sex, violence, degradation, murder and mayhem to have a PG-13 rating, whereas our film, highlighting the grave dangers of abortion in a straightforward manner, is considered dangerous for the American people to view.”

Although it is possible to appeal a rating, PureFlix has chosen not to because they don’t want to delay the release of the movie. Unplanned will be the first movie distributed by PureFlix that has an R-rating.

I deeply hope that the rating of this film will not discourage christians from viewing it. Abby’s story is something that the church in America needs to hear. It demonstrates the power of prayer, the goodness of God, and the hope and forgiveness that are found in Christ.

The issue of abortion is something many of us would like to avoid, we don’t want to think about it, but God is calling us to care. We need to pray, not only for mothers who are considering abortion and for their unborn children, but also for the clinic workers, many of whom are deceived and do not understand what they are doing.

May we be willing to pray, to love, and to speak. Perhaps the first step for us is to become a little bit more educated, to take a look at the issue from a different perspective, and to see those working in the abortion industry as human beings who have lost their way. The movie Unplanned would be a great place to start gaining that perspective. For this reason, I would encourage you to disregard the R-rating and see it when it comes out in March.

*Source for quotes: The Motion Picture Association of America’s R-Rating for Anti-Abortion Film Disputed by Distributor Pure Flix, (February 22, 2019), Article on The Hollywood Reporter.