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Unplanned: A Reflection from the Other Side

“Abortion is not normal.”

—Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director

Before she became an ally of the pro-life movement, Abby Johnson was the embodiment of my opposition. Abby was the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, and I was the director of Christian crisis pregnancy centers. I had seen this rhetoric unfold from the other side of the fence, as my staff and I came alongside the women who left abortion clinics like Abby’s and ended up at our beautiful red door broken, hurting, and confused after being sold a deception that was supposed to give them freedom, command, and control over their lives. You could say that Abby and I were two sides of the very same coin.

Learning about the Abortion Industry

I first heard about Abby Johnson when her story began buzzing through the pro-life communitythe story of an abortion worker gone rogue. I wanted to know more. I wanted to be a fly on whatever wall was going to give me the real scoop on the abortion industry and this woman’s life from the other side. The entire narrative was awe-inspiring and yet so unbelievable at the same time. God certainly does work in mysterious and miraculous ways.

Part of me couldn’t fathom what a day in her life must have actually been like—working as a dedicated abortion center director, truly convinced that she was making a difference for the advancement of women’s reproductive rights. The other part of me wanted to get inside her head—see the things she’d seen, know the people she’s known—so I could calculate this movement in its entirety. I’ve always been someone who has to rewind a situation—go back to the beginning and piece a problem back together before I could move forward with any kind of solution.

How did we get to the place where one in four American women felt that an abortion was their only option?

And how in the world did abortion and hormonal birth control become accepted as “routine women’s reproductive health” in the first place?

Was it me? Were there aspects to this whole movement that I was refusing to see? Had I been so sheltered in my Christian upbringing that ignorance and naivety had warped my perception on the science behind and the value of every human life? You can understand why I wanted to know more about Abby’s experiences. I needed the full scope in order to resolve some inner conflicts that still lingered within the convictions of my mind. And I wondered if it wasn’t similar convictions that had kept Abby up at night as well.

Understanding the Reality of Abortion

In 2012, within a year of Abby’s story and book coming out, we held a fundraiser event benefitting the work being done at our pregnancy center. It was a preview for our community of the original 60-minute Unplanned documentary that we showed in a high school auditorium. We were thrilled that around thirty people attended. Thirty people heard the truth about abortion and thirty people were now empowered to go out and share that truth and the love of Christ with a hurting world!

Fast forward to present day, April 2, 2019. Although many of my questions have been answered and much of my ignorance about the abortion industry has fallen away, leaving instead a graduated insight and understanding, I have to say that this tremendous burden for those who haven’t seen the destruction of this sin like I have weighs heavily on me.

The stories highlighted in Unplanned are the stories of our fellow community members, church members, family members, and friends who have suffered (often silently) with the aftermath of abortion. Real girl, boys, women, and men that we know and are in relationship with. Abortion is hurting us, right now. In real time.

A casual sex culture has distracted us from the intrinsic respect for the whole person, body and soul, and instead has fixed our eyes on the lust of the body alone. When we do not comprehend the value that every human life has, first and foremost, we literally, unarguably, cannot value anything else in this world or beyond.

That reality is what has brought us to the place where we feel hopeless in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, worthless and willing to exploit ourselves sexually, weakened and often defeated by sexual abuse, and able to compromise the emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health of women and men in order to explain away that which the physical body wants. We are willing to follow the progression of the abortion timeline that has justified that end by means of catering to women’s “reproductive rights” in order to control sex and make it our god. Serving It, all the while never realizing that it will absolutely never serve you back.

Abortion is not normal. The one true God and Creator of all things, including sex, never intended this for us.

Teaching My Daughters

It is for these reasons that I felt it was incredibly important, crucial actually, that as a mother, I come alongside my daughters as we watched the lies of an evil world unfold before our eyes through Abby’s testimony in Unplanned. I wanted my girls, from the safety of my own arms, to see the lies of a casual sex culture directly held up against the truth of God’s Word and HIS true intentions for sex, marriage, and the value of absolutely every human life.

Were there parts of the movie that were hard to watch? Yes. It’s an incredibly accurate portrayal of many painful experiences that have been entrusted to me by the women I’ve served in post-abortive ministry over the years. Does that diminish the urgency to teach our children well? No way. The culture is constantly bombarding us with beautiful and glamorous images of casual sex propaganda. The consequences of that are not pretty, however. Almost never are the public and particularly our youth privy to the real-life stories that Abby Johnson and I are all too familiar with.

While I chose to take my daughters with me to watch the movie, that may not be for everyone. I get that and respect it. Know your kids and their maturity level before you purchase them a seat beside you. Whatever you decide personally, we can all take the opportunity to open up conversations with our children and the youth in our lives to share Abby’s story with them in age-appropriate and consistently ongoing ways.

Knowing the Value of a Human Life

Generations of people are just now finding out, for the first time ever, what Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry has been up to for all these years: casual sex propaganda and abortions on demand. It has, for the better part of fifty years, led us to the place where we as a culture view abortion as part of everyday normal life.

There is nothing normal about taking the life of a unique and living human being.

There is nothing normal about telling young women that it’s no big deal. There is nothing normal about our young women being indoctrinated that their lives and the lives of their children are no more valuable than a rubber ball in the grocery store line: fun to play with . . . until they’re not anymore.

To the awe of many, Unplanned smashed through the glass ceiling of expectation in its first week. It opened in only 1,060 theaters but took number four at the box office, generating $6.4 million dollars! Unplanned received an A+ rating from CinemaScore, a prized achievement in terms of audience reception, and another six hundred screens have been added for the second week of the movie’s showing.

I think it’s safe to say that many, many more than thirty people will now have the opportunity to be a fly on that wall. To see what Abby saw and know what Abby knows. Thousands of us will now finally understand why women have bought into the lies of abortion and sought refuge within the walls of Planned Parenthood. These things did not happen of their own doing. Young people and minorities have been the target of this industry for decades to the point where we often cannot discern the truth from the lies anymore.

That is why Unplanned is irreplaceable and highly recommendable. It exposes the lies and points us right back to the great gifts of God given freely through the blood of HIS SON, a baby born to us: Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life.


Check out my book, Sexuality Mentality, for more writing on culture, youth, and sex.

Buy the book

Written by

Heather Ruesch

Heather Ruesch is a well-respected life issues speaker and singer/songwriter. She is passionate about youth and about being a voice of God’s truth in their lives. Heather is an abstinence educator and certified pregnancy center advocate and has served as executive director of crisis pregnancy centers. She and her husband Matt have three children and live in Michigan.

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