At a time when legal experts say it’s increasingly likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, the film Unplanned about former Planned Parenthood director-turned-pro-life-activist Abby Johnson is generating controversy and even an “R” rating.
The Motion Picture Association of America assigned the film, which opens March 29 at 800 theaters nationwide and is distributed by Pure Flix, an “R” rating for some “disturbing/bloody images” depicting the abortion process.
The writers and co-producers — Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman who made God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2 — note the film contains no profanity, nudity, sex, or violence, and argue that the MPAA’s rating seems to indirectly endorse the film’s pro-life position that abortion is an act of violence.
“I think (the MPAA rating) is great because, essentially to me, that just means the MPAA agrees with us, that abortion is a violent, disturbing act because they didn’t give us an ‘R’ for nudity, not for sex, not for profanity, for none of those things,” actress Ashley Bratcher, who plays Johnson in the film, told The New American. “They only gave it to us for violence, so that means they agree with us.”
Solomon says the film explores the most controversial issue in the world.
“Mother Teresa said when abortion ends in America, it’ll stop across the world,” Solomon said in a statement. “That’s how influential what goes on in America is. So, this is a desperate struggle here.”
Konzelman says the film explores the “third rail of American culture.”
“This is the one subject that pastors are afraid to bring up in their churches,” Konzelman said in a statement. “This is the one subject that priests are afraid to preach about for fear of alienating members of their congregation. When a subject becomes that taboo, there’s got to be something really, really important going on. And that’s where we’re taking this in our society. So, someone has to address this.”
The movie, which features top-notch acting, excellent cinematography, and explosive revelations about the shocking reality of abortion, is based off the 2012 bestselling book by Johnson entitled Unplanned: The True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Courageous Choice in Favor of Life.
The movie tells the story of Johnson’s transformation from an abortion clinic manager to a pro-life activist. Johnson, who started out as a volunteer in college and rose through the ranks to become director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, quit her job after witnessing an ultrasound of an unborn baby attempting to escape an abortionist’s suction tool.
“Ultimately, I left [Planned Parenthood] after witnessing a live ultrasound-guided abortion procedure where I saw a 13-week-old baby fight and struggle for his life against the abortion instruments only to lose his life, and I knew that there was humanity in the womb,” Johnson told The New American. “I knew that for all these years, I had essentially put the rights of the woman above the rights of the unborn child, and it became very clear to me in that moment that our rights should be equal — that one shouldn’t supersede the other.”
Johnson went on to start a ministry called And Then There Were None — helping abortion industry workers leave the industry and start new lives.
The film comes as much of America has been shocked by New York and other states moving to legalize abortion up until the time of birth. At the same time, legal experts told The New American that at least 20-abortion-related cases are working their way up to the U.S. Supreme Court that could result in a decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion.
With President Trump’s appointment of two new conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and the possibility that he may make other appointments if one or more of the aging, liberal justices die, experts say abortion activists are expressing growing concern that the case could be overturned soon.
“I think we are living in times where we could see Roe v. Wade overturned in the Supreme Court and pro-choice legislators are saying that as well,” Johnson says.
A survey by The Marist Poll in late February found Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life (47 percent) as pro-choice (47 percent), a double-digit shift from January when The Marist Poll found Americans more likely to identify as pro-choice than pro-life by 17 points (55 to 38 percent).
“I think the [new law in New York] is just very reactionary and now we’ve seen the latest Marist Poll that now even more Democrats are identifying as pro-life,” Johnson says. “I think it’s because these pro-life legislators have swung the pendulum so far that they are now really out of touch with their democratic constituency. I think they’ve exposed their hand and gone too far. They’ve shown too much, and it’s causing people who were once even supporters of them to rethink their thoughts on abortion.”
Here is the official trailer for Unplanned: