Holy shit, that was bad. As I mentioned before, several local church groups booked the Morris Theater to show the Pure Flix piece of crap, Unplanned, so I attended today to have an informed perspective on the movie. It was worse than I expected. It’s pure nonstop defamation of Planned Parenthood from beginning to end, and doesn’t really address any of the issues behind abortion at all — the whole goal is to demonize abortion and family planning.
Unfortunately, the theater was packed. They had clearly brought in several churchloads of people to see this thing, and it was intensely religious. They had 4 pastors and the director of Options for Women, one of those bogus nothingburger outfits that claims to provide alternatives for women who find themselves pregnant, but really, as the director announced, only provides a “passion and love for Jesus”. There was an opening prayer, of course, and they announced that there were offering baskets in the lobby for donations on the way out.
I did not make a donation.
Then the movie began. (Warning: Spoilers Ahead. Not that you should care.) It was the story of Abby Johnson, supposedly, from her book, which we know to be full of lies. It starts with the earth-shaking abortion that never happened, in which Johnson is called to assist with the ultrasound in an abortion, and watches the little fetus struggle and squirm and claw at the sides of the uterus as it is sucked into a vacuum tube in extreme detail. They spent some money on this fake animation. You can see in exquisite focus its little fingers clutching vainly to prevent being aspirated to its doom, and then its head goes pop as it gets sucked in, and then we cut to the outlet tube, which is about an inch in diameter and quarts of blood, with lumps, are being pumped into a big bucket. It was gory and exaggerated to the point of absurdity.
Johnson runs wailing to the bathroom, tears pouring down her face. Then we cut back in time 8 years, and we’re going to follow her life leading up to this moment.
She volunteers to work for Planned Parenthood after college. Her first day on the job as a volunteer clinic escort, she demonstrates great compassion…for the protesters outside the gate. The protesters are very nice. When Johnson mentions that the dismembered fetus pictures and the guy dressed up as the grim reaper aren’t actually that nice, they assure her that they tell those freaks to stay away. It’s not their fault. They’re just praying.
Johnson does this frequently, maybe once successfully ushering a patient into the building, but even then she has to have a little discussion with the protesters. If the movie wanted to portray her as incompetent at her job, they succeeded.
We meet Cheryl, the director of the clinic. She is an evil witch: never smiles, the other workers go silent when she steps into the room, she’s heartless and unsympathetic. When Johnson gets pregnant, Cheryl urges her to get an abortion and suggests that she won’t be suited for the job if she doesn’t. Everyone has to wait for her to leave the office before they can throw a baby shower for her, that’s how cruel she is.
Another day, a dramatic event: a father brings his teenaged daughter in for an abortion. After the procedure, she’s sitting there with blood dribbling down — the doctor, who is presented as an unfeeling machine, has perforated her uterus. Everyone panics. They rush her into one of the clinic rooms, the doctor starts cursing, they’re stuffing gauze in her crotch that an ungloved, unwashed Johnson is handing to him. The clinic workers want to call 911 and get an ambulance there…Cheryl coldly says no, the protesters would love that, it would hurt their business, so they spend 5 hours putting the girl back together again. Cheryl isn’t worried, they’ll dope her with some strong drugs so she won’t remember a thing.
If that were a true story, that’s when Johnson should have insta-quit. The whole tale is unlikely, unethical, and not at all fitting with the mission of Planned Parenthood. I also wanted to scream out that if safe abortions are banned, there will be a lot more perforated uteruses in America.
Later, Johnson goes out to chat with the protesters again, talking about all the good Planned Parenthood does. They completly stump her by comparing abortion to slavery and the Holocaust. No, really, she immediately clamps her mouth shut and leaves.
Abby Johnson is really, really bad at her job.
Next comes an order from the state office to double the number of abortions, because they need more money for an expanded clinic. This makes no sense, because abortions are only a few percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, but this movie only shows abortions being done. No mammograms, no STD testing and treatment, no contraceptives, no education programs, nothing — only brutal, bloody, buckets of blood-style abortions of miserable, weeping women. Johnson is told that abortion is what pays for her salary, and once again, Cheryl shows contempt for people who have babies.
The next big event: George Tiller is murdered. Johnson is terrified. Who does she talk to for reassurance? Why, those nice abortion protesters, who are all sympathetic and regretful. Her Planned Parenthood colleagues, though, tell her that they were only showing false sympathy. No, the movie makers are not going to use the Tiller murder to allow any criticisms of these friendly protesters to show through.
Abby Johnson is threatened with firing, because she dared to criticize her boss for promoting more abortions, a convenient but completely fictitious explanation. We also get to see a worker wheeling out two 55 gallon drums for disposal. The protesters ask, “Is that what I think is in there?” He says yes, ambiguously. What I’d think was in there was dirty gauze and pads and old syringes and discarded latex gloves, on their way to an incinerator, but they ask to pray over it, and then babble about hundreds of dead babies in those gigantic drums. Yeah, right.
We get a reprise of the gory baby-sucking event, which is the first time Johnson has ever attended any of the medical procedures at the clinic, because she is not qualified to do any of it, and is more of administrator/clerical person, but this time she’s brought in to do the ultrasound, which she does like a real pro, getting amazing high-resolution images of a baby. I rather doubt that this event happened at all. It’s also unlikely because we have the records of all the abortions done at the clinic that day, and there was only one, of a 6-week fetus.
She quits. First she runs once again to the protesters, her very favorite people, but she’s finally out.
That’s kind of the story, except there’s a weird bit tacked on calculated to increase the perception of Evil Cheryl. They sue Abby Johnson (in real life, they only made a legal motion to prevent her from spreading confidential information, since she had had access to all those medical records). They hire a lawyer from a billboard, who is just played as smug, grossly over-confident, and smirking, which apparently the audience found hilarious. They laughed every time he announced that Planned Parenthood was going to get what they deserved.
This segment was really about making Cheryl a mouthpiece for their myths. She monologues evilly at Johnson, telling her that Planned Parenthood was “one of the most powerful organizations on the planet”, that they were a “billion dollar corporation”, that they were supported by “Soros, Gates, and Buffet” and nothing was going to stop their profits. When the motion to prevent Johnson from sharing confidential information was defeated, the audience cheered. Of course.
We’re finally done. Oh, that was painful. We also get the Breakfast Club Outro, in which we learn that Abby Johnson is currently on her 8th child.
It’s typical Pure Flix, unbelievable garbage in which they clearly have no knowledge of what clinic workers do or think, just as in God’s Not Dead they had negative knowledge of what philosophers teach. Their job is simply to represent the biases and stereotypes of their grossly ignorant audiences, and they do that well.