By Virginia Curcio Rodriguez
I know. That sounds hard to believe. A teenage girl who, is very pro-life and unashamed to be, did not initially want to see a movie that expanded upon what she’s held onto so dearly for most of her life. That was me, though. Thankfully, it did not take much to change that. Unplanned challenged and validated my pro-life viewpoint in a way none of my own research ever has.
Reason #1: Necessity
I have pretty much always done my own research on the abortion issue and decided to be pro-life on my own. Sure, most of my family is pro-life, but if I was going to be against abortion, I was going to need to be able stand up for myself so I wouldn’t easily fall to the other side of the issue. I took it upon myself to educate myself to learn everything I could about it. It wasn’t easy, but at least I could proudly say, “I’m pro-life because I am, not because anyone told me to be.” However, the one thing I left out of my research until seeing this movie was what actually happens during an abortion procedure. Sure, I read about it, but I have always thought that would be enough. It’s hard to see something like that, but with the facts I already had, I felt like I didn’t need to. I didn’t want to see Unplanned because I convinced myself I didn’t need to.
When I heard people getting fired up about the R rating the movie received, I had to step out of myself. Sure, I was the “appropriate” age to see this movie. Maybe I thought I had enough reasons and facts to not see it. What about other girls though? What if there were girls who were considering abortion and a movie like this was the only place they would find reasons not to get an abortion but have been told they are not allowed to? That’s when I had to accept that if other girls were missing details of the abortion issue, so was I. Sure, seeing Unplanned was going to be difficult, and mass media even doesn’t want people to be seeing it, but that is exactly why I needed to. It was going to lead me out of naiveness by giving me more information on an important issue that I was not going to find anywhere else.
Reason #2: Sensitivity
If there’s anything I dislike more than crying, it’s crying surrounded by people I don’t know. So naturally, seeing a tear-jerking movie in a theater full of strangers who were also crying did not seem like my cup of tea. If I wanted to see this movie, I wanted to see it alone. I wanted to wait until the movie was out on DVD or online so I could do so. Again though, I was focusing on just myself. The more I read about this movie and the more I heard stories from the people involved in this movie, the more I was reminded that I wasn’t alone. Yes, a lot of times, abortion makes people emotional and cry, but it’s supposed to. It’s supposed to make people want to do something about it, and that is exactly what Unplanned, both the production of it and the viewing of it, does.
Reason #3: Pure Flix and Clichés
I’ll be the first person to readily admit this–I am usually not a fan of the kind of movies Pure Flix puts out. Yes, Christian movies have great messages that can be empowering when portrayed in the right way, but I find that too often, they are filled with cringy clichés about how good and beautiful Christianity is and overly demonizing depictions of the antagonists. They exaggerate and tend to fail at portray characters in a realistic and relatable way.
Unplanned isn’t exactly a Christian movie, but when I found out that Pure Flix was producing it, I was ready for clichés. I expected to see more about Abby Johnson’s life after her change of heart and the good that came from it than about her life during her time at Planned Parenthood. I thought that if Abby’s life during her time at Planned Parenthood was going to be shown, that it would just be talked about in an overly negative light. However, I told myself that regardless of any clichés that could be presented, Pure Flix was still promoting a cause I support and that at the very least, it would be interesting to see how they worked around any overused depictions of each side of the abortion issue. By the end of the movie, I was completely taken back.
This movie did not meet my expectations–it surpassed them. It did not just go in depth into Abby’s experience at Planned Parenthood, but it also demonstrated some flaws in the pro-life movement that drive people away from it. It showed how some pro-life advocates have the extremist ideas that anyone who has an abortion will never be anything more than “a baby killer” and that anyone who facilitates the abortion procedure should die. It showed how ineffective these beliefs are in helping people choose life. It emphasized how compassion, patience, forgiveness, and unconditional love and support are much more effective in helping to change and heal anyone who has taken part in any aspect of abortion. Unplanned does not aim to preach to the choir–it simply aims to present a real perspective that challenges its viewers. It is not some story that regurgitates the talking points of so-called “fanatics” of the pro-life movement. It portrays the pro-life cause in a realistic and approachable way, making the conversations it raises ones that cannot be run away from.
I was initially hesitant to see Unplanned because I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad I stepped out of that to see it. It is a movie that is worth watching because it raises conversations that are worth having by challenging viewers in a realistic and approachable way. It goes beyond facts to portray the pro-life cause in a different and inspiring way that is difficult to find anywhere else, and everyone who is able to see this movie should see it.