National News

Death Threats Against ‘Unplanned’ Movie

Ashley Bratcher, who plays Abby Johnson, in a scene from the film “Unplanned.” (Photo: CNS/

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The directors of “Unplanned,” the life-arming, true story of a Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist, described a White House summit on social media as a needed opportunity for conservatives to discuss how Facebook, Twitter and Google and other outlets are shutting out their voices.

Those popular online social networking services were conspicuously invitationless for the July 11 summit. Writers and directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, who talked to Catholic News Service ahead of the event, are the creative team behind “Unplanned.”

The movie chronicles Abby Johnson’s rejection of her role as Planned Parenthood surgical abortion clinic director after assisting in an abortion and watching on the sonogram machine, for the first time, as an abortion instrument shreds a baby into pieces.

After quitting her job, Johnson worked as a pro-life activist and wrote a memoir narrating her life-changing experience, which inspired Solomon and Konzelman to create “Unplanned.”

In an April Senate hearing on free speech and online censorship, Konzelman gave examples of media bias against his film. First the Motion Picture Association of America burdened it with what the filmmakers considered an unfair R rating.

Further, Google and most cable network stations refused to play ads for “Unplanned,” and Twitter temporarily suspended the movie’s account.

Currently the pair faces a similar battle to release the film in Canada. After top Canadian distributors rejected their film, they worked, alongside New Brunswick pastor BJ McKelvie to get the film into the country.

Canadian media outlets are dubbing the film “propaganda,” claiming it propagates bias and lies about abortion and abortion clinics.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada released a statement in opposition to the movie. “The film’s vicious falsehoods against providers could incite hatred and violence against them, including here in Canada,” Joyce Arthur, the coalition’s executive director, said.

Meanwhile, two independent theater owners in Canada have received death threats from abortion supporters. Backlash against the film is so violent that some theaters decided to hire extra security for the film’s opening July 12, while other theaters have decided retroactively to pull the film from their offerings.

“I think it is straight out of fascism 101 playbook,” Konzelman said.

“Pro-choice advocates claim we are creating a dangerous environment for abortion supporters. Meanwhile they have created death threats to the point that two theaters have pulled out of exhibition, one has hired security, one has said they won’t pick it up. … They create this controversy and blame the victim.”

Despite the public outcry against the film, “Unplanned” has a staunch base of pro-life supporters. It has enjoyed success at the box office, grossing $18.8 million total, with $6.4 million during its opening weekend. It was the No. 4 movie in the box office that weekend.

Now, with its upcoming DVD release Aug. 13, it already tops the Amazon best-seller list in
preorders alone.

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