Alongside the superhero sequels, Disney remakes, and horror thrillers that moviegoers will be treated to in 2019, a film with a more unusual message will appear on the big screen this year: the story of a onetime Planned Parenthood clinic employee of the year who walked away from her job and went on to become one of the loudest voices in the pro-life movement today.
The woman portrayed in “Unplanned” (due in theaters March 22), Abby Johnson, is the author of a best-selling book of the same name.
In it, the Texas native tells the story of her experience as the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic director in the country, during which she counseled countless women on their “reproductive options,” faced anti-abortion demonstrators outside her office, and even served as a spokesperson for the country’s best-known abortion provider.
On Jan. 19, Johnson will share her story with thousands at the fifth annual OneLife LA Walk for Life in downtown LA alongside personalities including Catholic radio host Gloria Purvis, anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez, and of course, OneLife LA founder, Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.
Johnson spoke to Angelus News ahead of her visit to Los Angeles to talk about the difficult reality faced by abortion workers, her hopes for the film’s impact amid the current political climate, and why she believes she has divine intervention to thank for “Unplanned’s” transition from book to film.
Looking back, what was the critical moment or decision that led to “Unplanned” becoming a movie?
The writers and directors, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, really wanted to tell my story, and it was through a series of divinely inspired events that the making of “Unplanned” came into reality.
The pieces fell into place more than any particular critical moment or decision. This movie is meant to be in theaters at this time in history, and I have no doubt it is going to change hearts and minds in this nation in a big way.
So far, what’s been the biggest challenge in making this film?
All the challenges that I’ve witnessed or have been told about have all been overcome by God’s grace and his divine timing.
The film was about to start production and the producers didn’t have a lead actress to play me — yet God intervened at the last second with Ashley Bratcher, a woman whose own mother laid on the table at an abortion clinic and changed her mind at the last second to keep her child.
For me, it’s been a journey of healing to know that the world is seeing me when I was at my worst but also gets to see my heart changing and the ultimate redemption through the grace of God.
In what ways do you think your own story can help move the abortion debate past the partisan politics of 2019?
We have to be able to listen to the voices who are not part of the conversation on abortion — abortion workers. They aren’t political. They are telling their stories, stories that deserve to be heard. After all, isn’t today’s culture demanding that women be heard, that their stories are worth telling?
“Unplanned” tells those stories — not only mine, but of women who work in the abortion industry for reasons they believe are just, of women standing in the hot and cold and rain outside abortion clinics praying for the conversion of hearts, of women who have had abortions. If there was ever a time in history for these women to tell their stories, this is it.
What impact do you hope “Unplanned” will have on the pro-life movement?
It’s my hope they will come together as one, strong voice to support all women, to help abortion workers leave the industry behind — if abortion workers leave clinics, there will be no more abortion because clinics will be forced to close.
It’s my hope “Unplanned” will be the catalyst for not only the pro-life movement to work even harder and smarter to end abortion, but that no one can ever say they didn’t know what abortion truly is and what it does to unborn babies, mothers, and their families.
What would you say to abortion workers struggling with their jobs, but who may not have much of a religious or faith-based background?
There’s a way out and I can help them. All those nightmares they are having, those days where they’ve seen too much, where they’ve realized the harm abortion has wrecked, or when that day comes where they just cannot walk into the clinic, I can help. My staff can help them.
We will help them write their résumé, find a new job, get back on their feet, overcome their addictions, and help them heal. It’s not too late. Go to www.prolove.com and we can help.
For more information on the Jan. 19 OneLife LA Walk For Life, visit OneLifeLA.org.
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