Thursday, May 5

UnPlanned - a review of the documentary

UnPlanned: The Sensational True Story that Made Headlines Across the Nation

When Abby Johnston quit her job at Planned Parenthood she did what no one would’ve ever expected her to: she joined Coalition for Life, an organization which strongly opposed Planned Parenthood’s position and actions regarding abortion.  Though she did not intend it, her move swept across media outlets nationwide, landing her on headlines and primetime news.

Unplanned is a documentary about Abby, her time at Planned Parenthood, and what led to her quitting her job, and seems to be meant as a companion piece to a book, also titled UnPlanned, which has also been released on her story.  It tells the story chronologically, starting with life before Planned Parenthood, how she got involved with Planned Parenthood, her becoming the director of her location.

I have not read the book, but this documentary seems designed to go hand in hand with it.  Some elements seem much better suited for the film.  Volunteers for Coalition for Life are interviewed and we are shown footage of their protests against Planned Parenthood.  These protests, however, are not the ones you see on the news.  They are not hate-filled or condemning.  They tend towards silence and peace.  When footage of harsher protests are shown (not Coalition for Life), the juxtaposition of protests is jarring.  We also hear from Abby as she tells of what went through her head whenever she saw such protests.

Of course, there are also sections which seem better suited for the book.  One of these is Abby’s life prior to working for Planned Parenthood.  The film spends a bit too much time going into it.  Though there are some important things to know, a book seems an easier place to unpack those events.

One of the stronger moments of the film was when Abby described her first time participating in an abortion procedure – an ultrasonic guided abortion.  This was the event that completely changed Abby’s view, and which pushed her towards Coalition for Life.  Though the film makers decided to add “intense” music to it, I feel it would’ve stood just as well, and perhaps better, without the music.

It was a tad long, even with a running time of 60 minutes.  Some elements seemed to be repeated or covered a bit too thoroughly.  If you don’t remember hearing about the event when it happened, you may also struggle to understand why this was made into a full documentary, which was one of the questions I had.  It seems as if a shorter version might be better paired with the book.  Still, there are still some strong elements to be found, as I noted above.

This is a not a documentary I would recommend if you are trying to learn more about abortions or about Planned Parenthood as a whole  While there are elements of both of these, they are not the focus.  Nor should you watch it hoping to glean specific ways you can argue your position, though again you may find small elements.  This documentary is meant to tell the experience of one person, why it affected her so deeply, and why it landed on a national stage.

3/5 stars

I received this book free from Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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Want to win a free copy of the DVD UnPlanned?

On May 13th I will randomly select one winner.  This winner will receive a certificate which can be redeemed for a free copy of the DVD UnPlanned, which tells the story of Abby Johnson.  This certificate can be redeemed at most Christian bookstores, or through mailing directly to publishers.  To enter, please fill out the questions below.  If you have any questions please post a comment on my blog following the review.  A valid email address is needed for your submission to be eligible.

Follow the link below and fill out the form to be entered.  Instructions are also available on the form. 

*you may need a gmail account to fill it out.  If you have any trouble please leave me a comment below.  If you wish to enter without filling out the form, please answer the following questions in an email to

Do you remember hearing about Abby Johnson in the news?
If so, what do you remember?

If you have any comments or questions, please post below.

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