I had not heard the sound before. I had heard something like it, but a world stood between those two sounds. One, the sound of a large toy clogging your vacuum or of soda slurped through a straw. The other, of a child being sucked, piece by piece, through her mother’s womb. It was a sound I will never forget.
That unforgettable sound came disgustingly (and vitally) to my ears when I saw Unplanned. Released in theaters on March 29, this film forces our eyes, ears, and hearts to experience the horrifying realities of abortion. It enters into the pristine, white tables of the abortion clinics — coined by staff as the “pieces of children” room — and behind the veil of respectability to show the evil that lies within. Eyes once shielded were pried open. Ears once covered were confronted with silent screams — cries only God can hear.
This sound, which I heard for the first time, has been heard by God 61 million times (and counting) in the last five decades in the United States alone.
The Unplanned Plan
Unplanned portrays the journey of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson — from naïve accomplice to a repentant, pro-life activist.
Abby admits her story is not a “neat” one, tied with a bow. “Small town achiever to college town party girl.” An abortion encouraged by her then boyfriend (who later became her husband, then committed adultery that ended in divorce). Another abortion of a baby conceived with her adulterer husband — “twelve hours of agony.” She discarded the baby in the toilet, then laid on the bathroom floor surrounded by blood.
She started as a volunteer escort for women seeking abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic before being hired as an abortion counselor, and then a clinic director — making her complicit in 20,000 abortions. All along, she was surrounded by patient and prayerful parents, a husband, and members of the Coalition for Life, who extended compassion at the gates outside the clinic.
‘I Think About You Every Day’
More riveting than Abby’s abortion history, though, is her redemption story. The turning point for Abby — and the movie’s tumultuous beginning — was her participation in the ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old baby. “Beam me up Scotty,” the doctor aired, as the vacuum gripped the twisting and lunging baby as his or her limbs were sucked up one at a time. “The baby was there,” Abby said. “Then the baby was gone.”
After eight years of loyalty to Planned Parenthood, God used Abby’s deepest pain to establish the organization “And Then There Were None.” God turned her efforts to quiet the hesitations of aborting women into loud cries for the unborn. She went from escorting women to Planned Parenthood to pulling 500 people out of the abortion industry.
Abby was once inside the gates. Then she stood outside, gripping the bars, to pray and plead with women. The aborted babies she had once named “undeveloped tissue” or “not much more than a polyp or blood clot” became “my children.” “I’m sorry,” she says, thinking of her own abortions. “I’m sorry I didn’t fight for you. I think about you every day.”
Fight the Right War
Abby’s story — the messy and redemptive — illuminates our war. The love two coalition members extended to abortion clinic staff and abortion-seekers formed one of the most poignant parts of the film. They met the hypocrisy — like a baby shower in an abortion clinic — and hostility — like police calls against nonviolent protests — with humility.
As I once heard in a sermon, we are God’s army, storming the gates of hell. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers over this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12). God claimed us by his love on the cross and he will claim others through demonstrations of love in the midst of the worst evils. So, we are angry at sin (Ephesians 4:26), but by God’s power, we love the blind, even those who lead the charge with forceps and vacuums.
How Could God Forgive Me?
“How does it feel?” Abby is asked moments after she resigns as the abortion clinic’s director.
“Like I just got out of prison.” Her departure through the doors, however, was not the end of her enslavement. We find Abby weeping in the middle of the night, bearing the bondage of her complicity in so many abortions. She asks her husband, “How could God possibly forgive me?” He responds, “Because he is God.”
He’s right, and yet so incredibly wrong. We have so much more to say — so much more we need to say.
If you repent of your sin — whatever sin, even 20,000 abortions — and believe the gospel, there is now no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Not just because God is God, but because God came and died to receive your condemnation. Because God took your place in his own courtroom, God can forgive you — he promises to forgive you — if you are in Christ.
The blood that stained your shoes as you tread your abortion agenda, in Christ, is washed white as snow by Jesus Christ, who purchased you with his own blood (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus died the death you deserve, and replaces it with the life you don’t, that you may stand in the presence of a Holy God forever forgiven, loved, alive.
If you, like Abby, have participated in an abortion, and you are asking yourself, “How could God forgive me?” know that he gave his own Son so you could be clean in his sight. If you want to know more about that kind of forgiveness and healing, text “HOPE” to 73075.
Prayer of Response
61 million gone — unnamed and unknown. With names, frames, and inward parts given by you (Psalm 139:13), left in garbage cans. O Lord, what are we to do in this darkness?
You command us to weep (Romans 12:15). You wept — even with the full knowledge of your victory that was to come. You were a “man of sorrows” with full knowledge that your sorrow would turn into joy (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 12:2). So, we weep with you from your throne in heaven for the little lives lost and in danger.
Stand in the presence of your weeping, praying people as you promise (Matthew 18:20). We ask you, if it is your will, to blot out abortion from the face of the earth now. I saw the golden bowls filled in heaven before you (Revelation 5:8) — of prayers for babies, women, husbands, boyfriends, doctors, nurses, other abortion clinic staff, and politicians. Answer for your great name’s sake.
One day we will stand before the gates. Not the gates surrounding abortion clinics to weep. But the gates of heaven, with all the rescued, praising our Great Rescuer. Weeping may tarry at these gates this long night, but one day we will see all things made right, even this, before you, our risen King. Help us to trust you in the darkness.