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Wednesday night, my wife and I had a very rare opportunity.

We were finally able to get out of the house, without our boys, for a date night.  We spent our evening together, with friends, at a preview of the faith-based film Unplanned.

The film is based on the true-life story of Abby Johnson, who went from Planned Parenthood clinic director to Pro-life advocate.  

Kleenex were handed out before the movie for what was expected to be a tear-jerker.  

Shortly after, a local pastor had us all, a private audience, bow our heads to pray for the end of abortion in the United States.

Though personally Pro-Life, I attended the film to support my wife, who was gifted tickets through our Parish’s RCIA program.  

To be honest, I would’ve enjoyed seeing A Star is Born with my wife rather than Unplanned.  My wife, however, is not a chick-flick kind of gal.  Since she cried when watching the trailer, I wanted to be there for her just in case she needed a shoulder to cry on.

You see, we lost our middle child, Jimmy, who was stillborn at 19-weeks.   

It’s difficult to lose a child at any age.  However, it’s even more difficult to openly express grief for a child most people don’t accept as a child — especially people who believe that life begins with “viability” outside the womb or don’t believe life begins at conception, as we do.

The loss affected my wife, more than me. 

She had a greater connection to our boy simply by the nature of carrying and nurturing  him for almost five months.  She also had to go through the pains of childbirth only to say “hello” and “goodbye” in the same breath. 

Don’t get me wrong; I mourn Jimmy, but for a completely different reason. 

Sadly, I never saw him alive.  

I was “too busy” with work.  The first time I accompanied my wife to the doctor’s during the pregnancy was the first time I saw the image of our baby on the sonogram.  He was oddly still.  His heartbeat was silent.

This unplanned loss, oddly enough, would soon become my greatest moment of Faith.

On the evening of the scheduled delivery, I not only felt the heavy cross of sorrow spiritually lifted off my shoulder as my wife and I prayed together before we entered the hospital;  I also felt the physical presence of the Almighty at our side.

In that time of pain and anguish, God lent me His strength to be the husband I was called to be at a time I needed to be a strong husband!

It’s amazing how such a sad and tragic event in my life is also my most evidential God-moment.  The still birth of our son, at 19-weeks, also gave me a greater awareness of the development of the fetus in a woman’s womb.

You can say this was a turning-point in my life, on many levels. 

Likewise, the movie Unplanned began almost immediately with the turning point in Abby Johnson’s life: Her witnessing a 13-week baby, on a sonogram, fighting off the attack of a surgical vacuum and eventually losing its life at the hands of an abortionist, who she was assisting.

The film quickly jump-cut, from that dramatic moment, back to Abby Johnson’s college years and her initial introduction to Planned Parenthood on her university’s campus.

From there, Unplanned chronicled the events in Abby Johnson’s life from naive Planned Parenthood volunteer to dedicated Abortion Clinic director.  Unplanned continues forward, showcasing her rising in the ranks, until the film returns to the first turning- point of the story, when she watched the sonogram of that 13-week baby whose struggle and death changed Abby into the defender of Life she is this day!

Though there was no cursing or nudity, the film received an R-rated.  Oddly, I think the controversy behind the film’s MPAA rating gave Unplanned a publicity boost, awaking a sleeping giant, an audience of Pro-Lifers across America.

A letter from Abby Johnson was read before the film began, pointing out the two scenes reportedly responsible for the film’s R-rated: a CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) sonogram re-creation of the initial abortion and the re-creation of an awful experience Abby had after using the abortion pill. 

Even though Unplanned had an obvious Pro-Life message, I had a problem with some of the film’s possible mixed messages. 

Christian and the Pro-Life most likely would not agree with Abby Johnson’s early life choices, however, others may see the life of Abby Johnson improving after being freed from the having a child — not once, but twice — with her loser boyfriend who later became her unfaithful first husband! 

Film is powerful.  These scenes, I feel, as they are portrayed, sadly play right into the hand of the pro-choice movement.

I thought it strange, as well, how observing the dissected body parts of an aborted fetus in a petri-dish had no impact on the film’s protagonist.  In fact, it appeared to only made her a stronger Pro-Choice advocate. 

Yet, after witnessing a two-dimensional sonogram of an abortion, the film’s protagonist became Pro-Life?

I couldn’t help but thinking that the short film Silent Scream, which has been out since 1984, could have been found online at that time.  Wasn’t she, or anyone she knew, aware of it? Or even curious?

I’m not questioning Abby Johnson’s character.  I’m just questioning the motion picture’s story-line and imagery.

There was one scene, for me, that favorably stood out.   It was a brief, yet it portrayed the true power and patience of our Heavenly Father

Pregnant with their first child, Abby was offered a promotion at Planned Parenthood.  If promoted, she would become one of the youngest clinic directors in the non-profit organization’s history.   So, she prayed and placed the promotion in God’s hands.

Her husband, in the film, as well as many around me in the theater, chuckled at the perceived irony of a Pro-Choice advocate believing that a promotion, from abortion clinic health counselor to abortion over-seer would involve God’s Will?

It may not be a part of God’s Will, but her promotion was certainly part of God’s Plan!

Think about it: If Abby never received her promotion, she may have never witnessed the sonogram of the abortion — and today, we’re discussing a movie about the conversion of Abby Johnson because of tha ultra-sound.

God, in His infinite wisdom, knew how and when Abby would see it — and He knew what would happen to Abby’s heart once she did!

As a film, Unplanned was good.  It just wasn’t great.  The highlight of the film was the performance of Ashley Bratcher, the actress who played Abby Johnson.

I prayed for Ashley, after the film, because knowing Hollywood as I do, I fear that her career may be negatively impacted by the success of Unplanned just as Jim Cavievel’s career suffered after playing Jesus in The Passion of The Christ.

The actress who stars in Unplanned, appears to be less fearful and believes the film is going to change history.  Not to be a negative Nellie, but I sadly don’t agree with her.

Do I think Unplanned will have an impact on our culture?  Yes, it will … with some folks! 

However, as I told my wife on the ride home, “Schindler’s List was so much more of a movie — and sadly anti-Semitism is at an all-time high today.” 

Likewise, the 1980’s short film Silent Scream can now be found on YouTube for all to see.

Yet, of 198 world nations, the United States is one of only seven countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam are the other.  The Netherlands and Singapore allow abortions after 20 weeks, but ban it after 24 weeks.  (Astounding, isn’t it?  Almost unbelievable.  You can fact check it all here.)

So, I have my doubts that a computer-generated ultra-sound assisted abortion with have a stronger impact.

I am, however, praying for the hope that I’m wrong.  

I’m also praying that the faithful show up in droves and support Unplanned. 

Support, however, also needs to shared with the upcoming anti-abortion film Roe v. Wade when it is released.  And while we wait for its opening day, we need to go back  out, purchase the 2011 Christian-themed film October Baby, and show it to friends, as well.

Overwhelming support for Unplanned, and films like it, would simultaneously send a message to Hollywood and to our State and Federally elected officials that we have the heart to save lives, but the ways and means to change the hearts and minds of Americans.

 But Unplanned can only be a start!  

LIFE MATTERS. TEXT “HOPE” TO “73075”

 

 

 

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!    As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  He also co-wrote and directed the play Faith Ties: A Christmas Drama.  His screenplay, based on the play, has garnered much attention.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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