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.


  1. sqlrob says

    I did not make a donation.

    Awww. You didn’t put in one of those things that looks like money but preaches instead?

    Next time, bring some monopoly money.

  2. gijoel says

    I did not make a donation.

    I would have, but I’d need time for the laxatives to work.

  3. nomdeplume says

    “Their job is simply to represent the biases and stereotypes of their grossly ignorant audiences”. Yes, but it’’s more than that. Conservatives, having realised that people generally like and prefer progressive policies and organisations if left to decide for themselves, have systematically set about destroying public perceptions of those policies and organisations by lying and misrepresentation. Conservation, education, science, vaccination, voting, good nutrition, a free press, women’s health, and so on and on, are all under furious attack.

  4. thirdmill says

    But just remember, if Mary had had an abortion, Baby Jesus would never have been born.

  5. blf says

    If she hadn’t been raped by a magic sky faerie there’d be no baby Carpenterson.

  6. Ichthyic says

    Did you not walk in front of the screen and at least try to tell these people the truth?

    then you missed an opportunity.

    YOU didn’t need to be informed, you already knew what was going to be in this propaganda piece. YOU were the one that needed to inform them.

    enough talk. more action please.

  7. sqlrob says

    But just remember, if Mary had had an abortion, Baby Jesus would never have been born.

    <insert “I’m OK with this” gif />

  8. says

    While they were at it, why didn’t they include a computer generated talking snake? These christians would believe it. The snake could say “give free healthcare to the poor” and god could come out of the clouds, zap the snake, and directly instruct the audience to give all of their money to the church, the republicans, and Trump, and prepare themselves to cleanse the earth of all non-christians (which includes liberal christains, you know), and promise that jesus himself will “return” immediately if they just follow these instructions. And their pet puppies that died will come back to life and lick them on the face.

  9. cartomancer says

    I know America’s defamation laws are pretty toothless compared to many places, but surely there are ample grounds for a libel suit in this piece of suppurating garbage?

  10. alixmo says

    This movie should be a vivid reminder for all well-meaning, humanist-atheist that activism for more and truer secularism is a necessity.

    Whilst we respect the feelings of religious people and practically stopped any open criticism of religion, they make movies like that.

    The religious right will never stop trying to influence and change public opinion and politics. They will continue to lie and distort, disperse “fake news”, advertise, preach, demonstrate, protest, make themselves heard on the internet, TV, radio etc.

    They network, even internationally. They advise like-minded groups all around the world, telling them what to do, which strategies work, urge them to emulate their own practices.

    They influence politicians, on community and state level, federal level, internationally, e.g. even in the UN.

    They still send out MISSIONARIES! Missionaries!

    Missionaries that spread their anti-homosexual (especially that, but anti-LGBTQIA in general) and anti-women ideology in developing nations, e.g. in Africa. (Where it already lead in some countries to anti-gay animus and hunts against gays – look into the Guardian archives. Their teachings also cement and enforce a patriarchal hierarchical social order in which women are eternally inferior. Women are often deprived of contraceptives and abortions are not allowed under any circumstances.)

    So there is on the one side a belligerent Christian right, which, in truly Machiavellian manner, believes that the end justifies any means (and support Trump, Brasil`s president Jair Bolsonaro etc.) – and on the other side polite atheists/secularist who dare not even point out that e.g. the Alabama abortion bill is the clear result of anti-equality, anti-emancipation ideology found in religion itself.

    We dare not point out the (for us, sure, obvious) fact that this is the result of a patriarchal religion which is contradicting modern ideas of women`s rights as equal human beings, trying to undo progress and bring back “traditional”, “God-given” gender roles.

    I often hear: “There are many good deeply religious people around and they do not believe that! Good people who are not against female emancipation.” Great – sure they have no problem with real secularism and a retreat of religion into the private sphere and out of politics? In which case, I embrace them and want to make them an ally.

    They too have the moral obligation to stop religion in politics. They too have the moral obligation to stop religious fundamentalism. We all do.

    But we cannot fight religious fundamentalism (in some cases it is already a form of religious fascism) gagged and with both hands tied on our back.

    Religion still holds power: We are obliged to speak truth to power.

  11. lumipuna says

    if Mary had had an abortion, Baby Jesus would never have been born

    Christians seem to maintain that being unborn – just like being Truly God – does not preclude one from being Truly Human. Therefore, I assume a Fetus Jesus would’ve been fully capable of suffering true death at the hands of evil men, followed by resurrection and ascension to Heaven. It was merely a coincidence that Jesus had to live 30 years post birth before his existence sufficiently annoyed someone to get him killed.

    (Since Mary was sinless, could she have chosen an abortion? Who cares, she was a teen girl in a heavily patriarchal society, she’d hardly have any choice on the matter.)

  12. curbyrdogma says

    Curious to know how many of the same people support an individuals’ right to possess military-grade weapons, and how they would react by seeing bloody, gory trauma photos of mass shooting victims. Or casualties of the endless wars the USA is involved in