Don’t blame the citizens of Alabama exclusively for their misogynistic laws. This poison is everywhere. Even in Minnesota. Even in your local community. It’s happening here in bucolic Morris, Minnesota.
Our local movie theater has given in to pressure from church groups, like this rag-tag mob of regressive bible-thumpers, to host a showing of the movie Unplanned in town. I can’t blame the theater, they are trying to represent the views of the community, and they did turn down a request to put it in their regular week-long rotation and are instead showing a single Sunday matinee. Still, we’re going to have a showing of a dishonest anti-choice propaganda film right here in my town. We get a fair number of religious films at the theater (the latest was Breakthrough), and I’m not going to complain — I’m just not going to attend. Unplanned, though, is worse than that, because it lies.
It is the story of Abby Johnson, who was a director of a Planned Parenthood in Texas who had a sudden conversion, resigned, and became an anti-abortion advocate. That much is true. She did make a surprisingly abrupt about-face on abortion. Was her motivation principled and honest, though? Probably not.
Johnson’s departure from Planned Parenthood turned out to be a more complex story than it first appeared. At a court hearing for an injunction sought by Planned Parenthood to prevent Johnson from divulging confidential information to her new allies, two of Johnson’s former co-workers testified that she told them in the days before she resigned that she was afraid she was about to be fired. At one time, Johnson, who was named the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate’s employee of the year in 2008, seemed to have a promising future with the organization. By mid-2009, however, her relationship with her employer had begun to deteriorate. Salon reported that on October 2, Johnson was summoned to Houston to meet with her supervisors to discuss problems with her job performance. She was placed on what Planned Parenthood calls a “performance improvement plan.” It was just three days later, on Monday, that Johnson made her tearful appearance at the Coalition for Life. The following day she faxed Planned Parenthood a resignation letter, which mentioned nothing about a crisis of conscience.
She claimed that she was pressured by Planned Parenthood to increase the number of abortions at her clinic, which is just bizarre. PP does not push clients toward abortion, if anything, it’s the opposite — their purpose is to serve the medical needs of the women. There was an increase in the number of abortions at her clinic before her sudden departure, but it was because they were providing more abortion pills at clients’ request. Only 3% of the services offered at her clinic were abortions. Johnson claimed she had an epiphany while observing an ultrasound guided abortion, during which she claimed the fetus struggled to escape from the suction, which is absurd. The fetus is only a bit more than half a centimeter long at six weeks. It has mere bumps for limbs, it still has prominent branchial arches, it’s not motile at all.
Oh, about that abortion in the sixth week: Johnson claims it was a 13 week abortion. At that stage, the fetus is about 7cm long and does have small limbs which exhibit spontaneous movement. Planned Parenthood does keep very careful records of all procedures, of course, and there was no early second trimester abortion on the day she claimed — only one 6th week abortion. So she lied about that, too.
Of course, the movie is going to exaggerate and dramatize everything even further, and lie about the realities of abortion every step of the way — it’s made by the same people who made God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2, both of which were shown here in Morris, no doubt at the urging of the same ignoramuses who are bringing in this latest abomination from Pure Flix.
Some of us are planning some kind of response. I’ll be attending the movie on the 19th of this month (oh, the pain I suffer to be informed), and we’ve talked about having a post-movie discussion, although I suspect none of the proponents of religious stupidity will attend. We’re also hoping to bring in a showing of No Choice, an excellent documentary from Bill Moyers on why women need this right for a matinee showing the week after — the distributors have been helpful and willing, and the theater is considering helping us out — but I doubt that we’ll get much participation by the people who need the information most.
We are not going to adopt the histrionic scare tactics of the deplorable anti-abortionists, which does tend to limit the magnitude of potential reactions. So no, sorry, we’re not going to stand outside the theater with bullhorns. Does anyone have any other suggestions about what can be done? Unplanned is being shown on Sunday the 19th, while we’re hoping to show No Choice on Saturday the 25th.