This year Mississippi joined just a few other states, when Legislature moved to make abortions illegal once a heartbeat is detected. The “Heartbeat bill,” passed during the 2019 session, is one of the most restrictive laws on abortion in the nation, effectively cutting off abortions around the 6-8 week mark.
The law has already been challenged in court on constitutionality after being signed by the Governor. Laws like this and others across the nation continue to challenge the question, when does life begin?
Unplanned is based on the true story of Abby Johnson, a former employee of Planned Parenthood. Abby first learned about the non-profit in college. While coming from a pro-life family, Abby was more lenient on her view of the unborn. She began volunteering at her local Planned Parenthood facility, until eventually gaining employment as as Counselor and then the Clinic Director.
In the film, narrated by actress Ashley Bratcher, who plays Abby, the character said that when first joining the Planned Parenthood team she was told initially that decreasing abortions, while increasing safe preventative measures, was the goal of the organization. However, later in the film it becomes apparent to the main character that that sentiment might not be accurate.
Through several experiences, including the murder of a clinic doctor who is said to have performed over 60,000 abortions in his career, Abby is faced head on with the reality of what she does for a living. When she finally sees the actual sonogram of an abortion being performed, that’s when everything changes.
When people first heard that a movie like Unplanned was being filmed they called those involved “certifiably insane” said Chuck Konzelman a writer/producer/director of the film.
“You just don’t do something like this in Hollywood,” Konzelman was told.
Since then it has met its fair share of criticism, even being labeled as propaganda. Those involved in the film said it was difficult to buy advertising and that there is no reasonable expectation that it will end up on a streaming service. Ads have been blocked by TV networks like Hallmark, Bravo, The Food Network and Lifetime.
However, the film made it to theaters. Unplanned released in 1,500 theaters nationwide and was in the top 10 movies out when it premiered. According to CBN News, the film with only a $6 million budget, total sales hit $17.2 million last weekend. Debut weekend hit $6.1 million.
Konzelman said the hope for the film was to become something like an “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” To bring to light the injustice they see in abortions. Not only has the film done better than they had expected in theaters, the social reactions keep on coming.
Since the release, something called the “Unplanned Challege” has been taking over college and university campuses. The challenge is where for someone who is pro-life, to take someone who is pro-choice or undecided, and see what the change rate is.
“Since the film released, the testimonials are just pouring in. People who weren’t sure how they felt about abortion or were for them are changing their minds,” said Konzelman.
According to Konzelman he once heard Justice Antonin Scalia say “Things get decided in Hollywood, they only come to us for ratification.” And that’s his hope for the film. Konzelman and others involved in its production hope it could be the catalyst that could impact the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Konzelman also testified infront of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. In that testimony he said since the release of the film 94 clinic workers have approached Johnson’s nonprofit, And Then There Were None, about leaving the industry, according to Pure Flix Insider.
“We are opening peoples eyes to something that is evil,” said Konzelman.
For those who might be skeptical about seeing a film so graphic in nature and touching on such a sensitive subject he had this to say:
“Don’t be afraid of it. Overall it’s about finding a path to redemption and healing. Some people live for years with guilt and shame over these decisions. It’s a way for them to find grace and healing,” said Konzelman.
And that’s exactly what happened for Abby Johnson.
A similar film was released last year, Gosnell: The Untold Story of Americas Most Prolific Serial Killer. The film depicted the true life story of an abortion clinic doctor and his eventual conviction. President Trump has since hosted a screening of the film at the White House in support of the pro-life movement.