It would seem implausible that a 15-year old girl would not be able to see an R-rated movie about abortion without the supervision of her parents, but that she would be able to get an abortion without her parents’ consent. But when the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) gave the pro-life movie, Unplanned, an R-rating that is exactly what happened.
The MPAA usually gives out an R-rating for movies that contain multiple occurrences of profanity and sexually-orientated nudity. Extreme violence is another reason for an R-rating. According to the MPAA guidelines, violence that is realistic will also garner an R-rating.
The director of the movie, Chuck Konzelman, believes there are other reasons for the rating. “We made a pro-life movie in a pro-choice town.”
The movie tells the true story of Abby Johnson, a former director at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. Despite growing up in a Christian home, Johnson became sexually active while in college and became pregnant, not once but twice. She aborted both babies.
Becoming involved in Planned Parenthood made her think she was taking a role in the women’s reproductive movement, which helped to rationalize her abortions. After volunteering for the largest abortion provider in the country, Johnson became a paid employee.
It was then she found out that the goal of Planned Parenthood was not to offer more free exams or hand out more contraception, instead it was to increase the numbers of surgical abortions and also abortions involving the drug, RU486. Each month, the clinic had a quota of abortions they needed to fill.
In 2008, Johnson was recognized as the employee of the year. In 2009, while working as a director, Johnson was asked to assist for the first time in an abortion. The procedure was done using guided ultrasound and it was Johnson’s job to hold the probe over the mother’s stomach. When she saw a 13-week old baby on the screen try to move away from the instrument trying to take it’s life, she knew her preconceived notions about abortion were wrong.
Days after the procedure, Johnson resigned from her position and became involved with Coalition for Life. When Planned Parenthood realized she had switched sides, they put a restraining order on her so that she couldn’t talk about her experiences while working for PP.
“It was strange that for an organization who said they were all about people making choices, they did not respect my choice to become pro-life.” Johnson said.
Johnson defeated Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit that enabled her to tell her story. In 2011, Johnson wrote the book, “Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line.” The movie, based on the book, is scheduled to be released March 29, 2019.
According to Cary Solomon, who worked as a writer and co-director on the film, the movie contains three scenes that directly address abortion, the MPAA objected to all three of them. One scene in particular was a doctor looking at images of an aborted fetus and another scene contained vomiting and lots of blood after an abortion pill was taken.
Solomon believes the reason for the R-rating is simply because the movie is a Christian, pro-life movie. “The standard used to rate our movie is being applied inconsistently as it relates to bloody images on-screen,” he said. “In fact, Happy Death Day 2U (a “slasher” film with several violent murder scenes) has far more blood and gore than our film and it received a PG-13 rating.”
While the filmmakers could have removed the objectionable scenes, they chose not to because they felt the entire story needed to be told and that people need to know what really happens during an abortion.
“It is our calling as Christians to tell the story about the moral implications of abortion that the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge,” says Pure Flix president, Michael Scott.
Abby Johnson is undeterred by the R-rating. She explains that one of the most powerful movies of all-time “Passion of the Christ” had also been given an R-rating, so she feels that “Unplanned” is in “good company” and that “people are ready for the truth.”
The former Planned Parenthood director, turned pro-life activist goes on to say, “We are pushing the boundaries of what has never been before on such a wide scale by showing America exactly what abortion is — and abortion is disturbing. It’s violent.”