According to legend, when President Lincoln met the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, Ms. Harriet Beecher Stowe, he declared: “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”
Sometimes works of art can transform the thinking of people in ways that surprise and astonish. It is often repeated that humans are “wired for story.”
It is not surprising, then, that those who are self-described abortion advocates in the media suddenly forgot First Amendment freedoms recently as they censored the movie “Unplanned” during its opening weekend in the theaters. They anticipated the power this story would have on the way people think about abortion.
The Pure Flix film is based on the true story of Abby Johnson, who worked as a clinic director at Planned Parenthood, but resigned in 2009 after witnessing an abortion on an ultra-sound machine. The jarring experience led her to become a pro-life activist.
According to media reports, the Twitter account for the movie “Unplanned” was temporarily suspended during the crucial opening weekend, and users reported they couldn’t follow the account. The account was eventually reinstated, but approximately 50,000 Twitter followers suddenly disappeared. Twitter officials called the incident an “error.”
Read Chapter One from “Unplanned” by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert.
The star of “Unplanned”, Ashley Bratcher, tweeted from her own account in the midst of the blackout: “Trying to figure out why the @UnplannedMovie account has been suspended. We need answers. #unplannedmovie”
According to Ryan Saavedra of The Daily Wire, when the account was restored after a major backlash, folks attempting to follow were unable to do so — or those who did follow were quickly removed from the account. According to Twitter, this was not intentional, calling it an apparent “glitch.”
Despite the Twitter blackout, and attacks by pro-abortion celebrities and politicians, “Unplanned” enjoyed a strong debut weekend, taking $6.1 million from only 1,059 theaters, coming in 4th nationwide at the box-office. The movie’s Twitter account was eventually restored and now has more than 339,000 followers.
On his own Twitter account, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a strong critic of the tech industry, has called on Twitter chief Jack Dorsey to open the tech giant up to an independent outside audit after the temporary suspension of the “Unplanned” account.
“Over the weekend, Twitter suspended @UnplannedMovie for no apparent reason. Latest example of deplatforming prolife and conservative voices. Time for @jack to open Twitter to a full, independent, outside audit on its speech policies – and then publish the results,” Hawley tweeted.
But it wasn’t only the Twitter “glitch” that is disturbing. According to “The Hollywood Reporter,” commercials for “Unplanned” were rejected by Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, HGTV and several other television networks. Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network were the only major networks to run the “Unplanned” television ads.
“If you haven’t seen a commercial for Unplanned,” wrote Paul Bond of Hollywood Reporter, “an anti-abortion movie critical of Planned Parenthood, it isn’t for lack of trying on the part of marketers, whose efforts have been consistently rebuffed by TV networks. Pure Flix, the distributor behind the box office hit ‘God’s Not Dead’ and other movies aimed a Christians, opens the movie in 1,000 theaters today, but outside of the Fox News Channel, every other mainstream television outlet has declined to air the ad.”
Defenders of “Unplanned” say the best way to fight this media censorship is to go see the movie – and take people with you. The Motion Picture Association of America handed out a controversial R-rating for the film, so children under seventeen years of age must be accompanied by parent or adult guardian. Advocates are saying, “despite the R-rating, take your kids to see this movie.”
“‘Unplanned’ … is the R-rated movie everyone needs to see, including teenagers,” writes Janey DeMeo, author and founding director of Orphans First. “I know, I know. R-rated is bad. Really bad. So why do I think everyone should see it? Hmmm. It could change lives. It could save lives. It could spare people from heartache.”
“Yes, this movie is rated R for several emotional scenes,” says writer Ava Pennington. “But unlike the gore of fantasy movies, this is real. And I find it especially difficult to understand why a teen girl must be protected from seeing the reality of abortion via the R rating when they are legally able to have an abortion performed on them without their parents’ consent… Let me get this straight; they can do it, but they shouldn’t see it?”
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council agrees. “…this is one of those rare moments in time, like Gosnell, like New York’s abortion law – when the pro-life movement has the opportunity to break through to the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. So what can you do? Go see the movie! Take your church group, your family, or your Bible study. If your local theater isn’t playing the movie, call them up and demand it. Then have your friends do the same. Can a handful of movie tickets change the debate? Buy some and let’s find out!”
So maybe this little movie won’t start a war, like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” did in the Nineteenth Century, but it could start a revolution in the hearts and minds of people today – and just like Abby Johnson, their change of heart could be unplanned.
Dr. Craig von Buseck is Digital Editor of Inspiration.org.