It’s an eerie feeling: Watching a drama about what goes in an abortion clinic while seated steps away from an actual abortion clinic.
This was my experience and that of over 250 others who attended a special preview — co-sponsored by my organization, the Human Life Review — of the movie "Unplanned" at the Sheen Center in New York City on February 21.
"Unplanned," which will be released March 29, is based on the best-selling memoir of Abby Johnson, once one of the youngest clinic directors ever at Planned Parenthood — and involved in over 22,000 abortions — now a powerful leader in in the pro-life movement. "Unplanned" was screened at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Steps away from its entrance is a corner which has been renamed Margaret Sanger Square, because it houses Planned Parenthood’s Manhattan abortion clinic, the Margaret Sanger Center.
"Unplanned" made national news the morning after the Sheen event, because the MPAA gave it an R rating, citing “Some disturbing/bloody images.” There are indeed some intense scenes: There were audible gasps in the audience at the screening, and stunned silences. The film refuses to hide the violence that is abortion. Ironically though, in many states, a teenager can go to an abortion clinic and get an abortion without parental consent — but she won’t be able to see this film without being accompanied by an adult.
"Unplanned" also gives viewers an inside look into Planned Parenthood as a business which incentivizes abortion. We can expect push-back from abortion activists and organizations, perhaps a media blackout, as with the recent movie "Gosnell" — this is a movie many powerful people don’t want you to see. But I hope it gets seen and reviewed far and wide: "Unplanned" has the potential to remove the scales from people’s eyes, if only they will be brave enough to look.
There need be no fear.
Although "Unplanned" exposes the disturbing realities of abortion, the film is inspiring and hopeful, as it is fundamentally a story of redemption.
This movie works because Abby’s story is relatable and real. The same Abby who once thought abortion was necessary for women, who had two abortions herself, who became a star employee at Planned Parenthood through hard work and spunky dedication — that same woman faced, at a pivotal moment, all that she had participated in, and made a complete turnaround.
She courageously joined the pro-life movement and now serves especially those who, like her, have participated in abortions and have a conversion of heart.
Johnson founded the non-profit And Then There Were None in 2012, which exists to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry, and seeks to “end abortion from the inside out.” ATTWN offers financial, legal, emotional and spiritual support — needed, because as "Unplanned" makes clear, exiting the abortion industry is hard. ATTWN’s website states: “We believe that a clinic worker's life is valuable, too. As former clinic workers, we have a different perspective than others may have —we’ve been in their shoes. And we used those shoes to walk away”.
At this writing, And Then There Were None has helped over 500 clinic workers cross over to the prolife side. What a powerful example and reminder of God’s grace.
Maria McFadden Maffucci is the editor of the Human Life Review, www.humanlifereview.com, a quarterly journal devoted to the defense of human life, founded in 1974 by her father, James P. McFadden, Associate Publisher of National Review. She is President of the Human Life Foundation, based in midtown Manhattan, which publishes the Review and supports pregnancy resource centers. Mrs. Maffucci’s articles and editorials have appeared in the Human Life Review, First Things, National Review Online, National Review, Verily, and Crux. A Holy Cross graduate with a BA in Philosophy, she is married to Robert E. Maffucci, and the mother of three children. Her interests include exploring opportunities for individuals with special needs. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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