Planning on “Unplanned”

Planning on “Unplanned”

The Right to Life League is approaching an important anniversary: nearly two years ago, the Board of Directors decided to take a chance on a pro-life film project that, they believed, would have the power to change hearts and minds about the dignity of human life.

It was in October 2017 that Abby Johnson presented the keynote speech at the League’s annual Gala, sharing her story: how she went from leading a Planned Parenthood clinic, from being named Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the Year, to one of the nation’s most vocal pro-life activists.

This wasn’t the first time Abby had shared her story. She had also written about it in a best-selling book, UnPlanned.

At that same Gala in 2018, the writers and producers of “God’s Not Dead” and several other successful faith-based films told League supporters some exciting news: they planned to make a movie based on Abby’s book.

Not to be outdone, the League made a thrilling announcement of its own: the Board had decided to take the plunge, and become the first investor in this ambitious film project.

With that support, the film’s producers were able to solicit other investments in the project, and the following year, members of the League’s Board were on the set, watching as actors played out Abby’s powerful story.

One year later—on March 29, 2019—“Unplanned” opened in theaters. And, while the boardmembers, staff, and volunteers of the League, and pro-life activists all across the country, had prayed for the success of the film, no one was really prepared for its box office performance.

“Unplanned” ended its opening weekend in fourth place at the box office. That success led to an increase in the theaters showing the film over its second weekend in release. Ten days after being released, the $6 million film grossed more than $12.5 million–and remained in the top 10 of current releases.

And that’s not all.

The film also sparked a Senate hearing on the censorship of conservative speech.

Titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technology Censorship and the Public Discourse,” the hearing included testimony from the film’s writer and director Chuck Konzelman.

Why? Because the film’s Twitter account was mysteriously suspended on its opening day, without explanation. Although it was restored after a few hours, many Twitter users discovered that they were unable to follow the account, a glitch that persisted for some time and garnered significant publicity.

And that’s still not all.

The goal of this pro-life production is, after all, to open minds and hearts to the reality that life begins at conception, and that abortion ends the life of an unborn child. While we may never know how many lives the film saved, we do know that it has provide the inspiration and support for many people to leave the abortion industry.

Nearly 100 individuals reached out to Abby’s organization, And Then There Were None, after having watched the film. Like Abby herself, like her character in the film, they wanted out of the abortion industry.

For the Right to Life League, deciding to make a significant investment in this film was not an easy decision: although we believed in the potential of the project, the League is a nonprofit organization that runs on a tight budget.

But knowing Abby’s story, knowing the depth of experience of the production team, we couldn’t walk away. And now, nearly two years after we first announced our investment in “Unplanned,” we can see clearly how God has worked through us, and how God continues to work through this film. We give thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this project, and to kickstart the investments that helped bring it to fruition.