It’s been five years since the evangelical Christian production studio Pure Flix had their runaway hit God’s Not Dead. (Listen, when Kevin Sorbo is playing your elitist, latte-drinking, Christ-denying college professor, you can expect success!) The Arizona-based outfit pumps out profitable movies each year, but this Easter season, with Unplanned, they’ve taken a page out of the Hollywood playbook they claim to despise: more sex and gore!
Don’t get too excited. The sex is off-screen, but results in a lot of out-of-wedlock pregnancy. And the gore doesn’t come from action-adventure sequences, but from grisly abortion complications in which chunks of bloody fetal tissue slap against cold tile floors. It’s disgusting, and could even work as effective anti-choice propaganda if it wasn’t so ham-handedly stitched together. Abortion is a serious topic. This movie is ridiculous.
Based on the anti-choice activist Abby Johnson’s memoir (which, it may not surprise you to learn, has been contested), Unplanned is a step backwards for Pure Flix in terms of sheer storytelling and production values. (I’ll be first to concede that God’s Not Dead 3: A Light In Darkness, while ludicrous, at least holds one’s attention.) Unlike recent productions such as Do You Believe? which actually had a slew of well-known performers, there’s only one recognizable face here, Robia Scott (Jenny Calendar on Buffy!) who is quite delicious as Cheryl, the Cruella DeVil-esque division head of the Texas Planned Parenthood.
Cheryl is Abby’s (Ashley Bratcher) boss, and it’s through Abby, the wide-eyed volunteer-turned-administrator looking to “keep abortion rare” that Unplanned gets us inside the demonic, bloodstained halls of America’s most heinous baby-killing factory. (One which the film says, and I swear I’m not making this up, is “backed by Soros”.)
Abby is drawn to Planned Parenthood at a college recruitment drive for its women’s health services. (“We discovered someone has cancer today!” is a weirdly cheery line in this film.) Of course, once part of the machinery, Abby learns the awful truth. “Non-profit is a tax status, not a business model!” she is scolded. We also get a convoluted lesson in weird economics. “Fast-food outlets break even on their hamburgers. The french fries and soda are the low-cost, high-margin items. Abortion is our fries and soda!” If Abby wants to keep her 401K and health benefits, she’s gotta keep the abortions coming at all costs!
As Abby continues on her career track as a “counselor”, she’s really selling abortions like time shares. She gives dazed, emotionally fragile young women exploding offers on special rates and twists arms. Her boss gets furious when Abby gets pregnant, and needs to take time off. At first Abby argues with her conservative family about how the fetuses aren’t sentient, and couldn’t exist outside the body. Then she isn’t so sure.
The change of heart comes slowly. Despite helping to process numerous women as they come in for abortions, she grows doubtful when we see her with her first black patient. The young woman’s family is crying out by the gate, yet she seems so cavalier entering the facility. It just had to be a black person that triggered Abby’s thoughts that pregnant women don’t know what’s good for them?
Despite the many ghastly scenes of blood (so much blood), Abby has her epiphany observing cheap, risible CGI of an ultrasound. A fetus presents what could be misinterpreted as fear or pain during the procedure. As Abby mugs, the callous doctor barks orders and the music swells just as the prayer group is mid-chant outside. We get corny closeups of medical tubes overflowing with what look like raspberry Icees. It’s enough to make anyone turn to a higher power, just to get this movie to end!
In the center of all this is Abby herself. (And Bratcher’s sub-dinner theater performance.) Abby is, after all, just a product of our times, a woman who ought to be content at home with her husband, creating a family. But no, diabolical modernity forces her to choose career and political correctness means her father and husband just have to sit there like beta male cucks and not say anything even though they know what she’s doing is wrong. (Why she and her husband are together is beyond me; all they do is fight about abortion!) Eventually, though, men swoop in to rescue Abby: her husband, the leader of the prayer group that shames women from the sidewalk and a lawyer who protects Abby from her evil ex-boss when Planned Parenthood accuses her of spreading misinformation.
Unplanned was financed in part by Mike Lindell, the founder of My Pillow, the only bedding manufacturer I’ve heard of that’s frequently on the bad end of class action lawsuits. You may also know Lindell from one of his more recent hits, calling Donald Trump “the greatest president in history … chosen by God”.
The film concludes in celebration. The local Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, closed. (True story!) There’s nothing in here about the hardship restricting women from their own constitutionally protected reproductive health has on the community. Only shaming women for “killing babies for convenience”.
Abby went on to have seven more children. (Mazel tov.) She also converted to Catholicism, but that isn’t mentioned in the closing credits, as it doesn’t quite fit the Pure Flix narrative. But we are shown a number to text in case anyone is struggling with the decision to have an abortion. I’ll make a donation to Planned Parenthood instead.