I saw my first R-rated movie last weekend. Years ago I read Abby Johnson’s book “Unplanned,” and now that her story is in theaters I really wanted to check it out.
If you haven’t already heard the details, just know that “Unplanned” is one of the most powerful pro-life stories you’ll ever hear. In 2009, a director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic witnessed an abortion. In response to what she saw she left her job, eventually joining the pro-life protesters on the other side of the fence of her former clinic.
Talk about drama.
Abby’s resignation created a stir in Planned Parenthood and the media, with gag orders and court hearings and all kinds of TV appearances (like I said, drama). Abby went on to found And Then There Were None, an organization that helps employees in the abortion industry leave their jobs and find employment elsewhere.
Two things really stood out to me as I watched Abby’s story unfold on the screen. First, “Unplanned” shows the consequences of abortion in a time when people either deny that consequences exist or forget that they do. Second, “Unplanned” reminds us that God isn’t finished with the pro-life movement.
The truth about abortion
In a world where abortion is validated and even praised, “Unplanned” exposes lies and shows us the pain of abortion that some of us rarely or never see. Onscreen we see the anguish of grandparents who know their grandchildren are being aborted. We see the pain of women and teenaged girls — including Abby — experiencing abortion and abortion complications alone.
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that” — a pro-life volunteer says about Abby’s earlier abortion. Abby cuts her off, insisting she was glad for her abortion. But later we see how much it hurt her.
We see Abby after she leaves the clinic, grieving not only her two aborted children but also her role in thousands of other abortions. We listen as she asks her husband how it is even possible that God could ever forgive her. “Because He’s God,” her husband assures her.
Abby Johnson’s story is one of pain. I think we sometimes forget that amid our statistics and logical arguments. There’s a place for numbers and rhetoric, but we must never forget that abortion hurts — personally and profoundly.
Praying at the fence
Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nearly two decades before I was born. I grew up hearing people in my church talk about praying outside the local abortion clinic. To me, abortion has always been a fact of life and it sometimes seems pointless to hope for that to change.
There’s a scene in “Unplanned” where Shawn, the leader of the pro-life protesters who have faithfully prayed at the clinic, tells Abby how discouraged he had been before she quit.
They had spent so many hours praying at the fence. Several times he had organized events where volunteers stood outside the clinic praying around the clock for 40 days. Yet they still saw woman after woman go into the clinic. They saw relatives sobbing at the gate. They saw large drums full of the remains of babies taken away by sanitation trucks.
Over and over and over they prayed.
Over and over and over babies were aborted.
“Some days,” Shawn told Abby, “I thought we weren’t doing any good.”
But then Abby quit. God moved in her heart and brought her out of that clinic, launching a national movement that has prompted 500 other abortion workers to exit the industry.
God’s people prayed faithfully even when they saw no results. And God worked. Just look at all that has come of their faithful prayer: the resignation of the clinic director, the eventual closing of that clinic, and now a book and a movie sharing the story of what God has done.
Will there be an end to abortion?
When I walked into the movie theater last weekend, I was pro-life. When I walked out, I was just as pro-life but I was reminded how important this message is and how desperately people need to hear it. I was reminded of the pain caused by abortion. I was reminded of the power of prayer.
More than anything, I had just witnessed a reminder that God never stops working behind the scenes. Even when it feels like all our efforts are failing, when we don’t see any results, God never fails, loses or gives up.
While Shawn was wondering if his work was pointless, God was preparing a Planned Parenthood director to make one of the most dramatic turnarounds in pro-life history. The impact from those volunteers praying at the fence will never be completely known.
Go see “Unplanned.” Take a friend with you. Even if you already know life begins at conception, Abby’s story will remind you that the fight isn’t over and we all can play a part in it.
“Unplanned” reminds all of us that God hasn’t left the scene. He redeems our pain for something we never thought possible, bringing life out of our messy realities and hope to our R-rated stories.
Copyright 2019 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.