Truth-telling and Big Abortion

The pro-life effort to witness to the truth continues in Unplanned, which reminds me of Pope St. Paul VI’s comment that modern men and women learn better from witnesses than from teachers.

Abby Johnson, portrayed by Ashley Bratcher, reacts to what she is seeing on the ultrasound screen while assisting with an abortion in this clip from the movie "Unplanned." (

For over a half-century, what styles itself the “pro-choice” movement has thrived because of its extraordinary ability to mask what it’s really about — the willful taking of innocent human lives in abortion — through various rhetorical deceptions.

Planned Parenthood clinicians ask frightened and often ignorant young women, “Would you like us to restore your period?” Legislators in thrall to Big Abortion dollars vie to keep sidewalk counselors away from abortuaries, in order to maintain the pretense that what goes on inside those chop-shops involves no more than unwanted “tissue.” The governor of New York celebrates the passage of a bill that would legally permit abortions up to the moment of birth because this is all a matter of “women’s reproductive health.” The governor of Virginia babbles about letting children who survive abortions die, thinking himself humane because he insists that the victims will be kept comfortable. Last month, a Georgia state senator decried legal protection for unborn children who display “what some call a heartbeat.”

George Orwell, call your office.

Forty years of pro-life argumentation have dented the armor of euphemism surrounding this slaughter of the innocents, which, while still appallingly high, is now at its lowest rate in decades. Thoughtful pro-life veterans will acknowledge, however, that what made a considerable difference to our cause was the invention of the sonogram: the technological marvel which proves that a picture is more powerful than a thousand lies about blobs of tissue. Now comes a hit motion picture, Unplanned, which takes the war against euphemism in the abortion debate to another level.

Unplanned tells the story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and onetime Planned Parenthood employee-of-the-year, who became a pro-life activist after being called from her safe, euphemism-ridden director’s office to assist in a “procedure.” Watching what was indisputably a human creature trying desperately to avoid the instruments of impending intrauterine murder, Abby Johnson saw the truth of what abortion does, as what she described as a “perfect baby” was sucked out of the womb. She then had the honesty, and courage, to acknowledge what she had learned, leave her remunerative Planned Parenthood job, and try to teach others the truth that had seized he imagination.

That effort to witness to the truth continues in Unplanned, which reminds me of Pope St. Paul VI’s comment that modern men and women learn better from witnesses than from teachers; and if self-conscious moderns listen to teachers, it’s because they’re first witnesses. Abby Johnson, just such a witnessing teacher, is beautifully portrayed in the film by Ashley Bratcher — who also deserves credit for putting her own career at risk, given the assault that’s been mounted on Unplanned by the “pro-choice” Hollywood commentariat in the mainstream media, and by attempts to censor positive comments about Unplanned on social media.

Thus far, the campaign against Unplanned hasn’t worked. The film has been an expected box office success, despite efforts to black out advertising for, or coverage of, its first weeks on the silver screen. And we may hope that the campaign against Unplanned will eventually boomerang, as it becomes ever more clear that what Big Abortion, its ideological allies, and its political facilitators fear most of all is the truth — the truth that strips away the rhetorical façade behind which the campaign for “liberalized” abortion laws has been conducted since the late 1960s.

In his informal memoir, At Ease, Dwight D. Eisenhower lamented the loss in World War II of millions of “lives that might have been creatively lived,” and noted that the memory of that slaughter “scars the mind of the modern world.” It cannot be doubted that the tens of millions of lives lost to the abortion license in America since Roe v. Wade — lives that might have been creatively lived — scars the national conscience, whatever the euphemisms that put band-aids over the scars. There are also the scars born by women who have chosen abortion; their healing, and effective service to women in crisis pregnancies, must always be the complement to argument and witness in pro-life activism.

And then there are the irresponsible men. Hollywood’s rating system labeled Unplanned “R,” presumably because of its devastating first scene, where Abby Johnson meets the truth about abortion. That scene, and indeed the whole film, should be watched most carefully by men, who have benefited for far too long from Big Abortion and its wicked language games.

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About George Weigel 429 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021), and To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II (Basic Books, 2022).


  1. ‘Unplanned’ is a truly amazing and moving film. I would strongly recommend that people view it as it provides an ‘insider’s’ view of the nightmare which is abortion…

  2. I would disagree with the statement “pro-choice” movement has thrived because of its extraordinary ability to mask what it’s really about”. No, its more our moral thrust to change their minds, but we must be crystal clear in that attempt. “Pro-Choice should not be taken as frivioulous abortion. As long as we continue to divide the “Pros” confusion and lives will remain as status quo.

    I blame the Christian community for painting with a broad brush and not stating the accepted exceptions to abortion.

  3. I believe abortion, and contraception, have deluded feminists into believing that the socio-economic playing field will be leveled if they can neutralize what makes them most unique – their fertility and capacity to become mothers. But abortion and contraception reinforce the very roots of the sexism and chauvinism they imagine oppresses them. Mr. Weigel is right to say that men, esp. young men, need to see Unplanned. For this anti-fertility climate has created a generation of pornographically poisoned, sexually stunted males (enter Harvey Weinstein et al) who merely take advantage of the license that contracepting females unwittingly and implicitly offer them. Worse, I think, is that to abort an unborn child, one has to de-personalize him or her, dis-integrating the child from oneself. In so doing, a woman de-personalizes herself as well. This is liberation?? “George Orwell, call your office” – indeed!

  4. Words. Planned Parenthood and their ilk were as wise as serpents when they declared they were “pro choice”. The “choice” was made when the couple decide to have sex. The next decision was to be “pro life” or in truth “pro death”.
    We ALL have choices to make. And abortion is choosing death for the unborn child.

  5. The unknown zillions of dollars in secret profits going to sellers of baby parts (Planned Parenthood); who get these parts for ‘free’ from vulnerable duped females who actually pay the abortionists to ruin their soul and sell off their babies arms and legs, etc. ; to fuel the mad-scientist frenzy in bio-unethical research is what is really fueling abortion. It’s time we wise up and make sure to emphasize this in articles.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. George Weigel, otro entusiasta de «Unplanned» | Moral y Luces
  2. George Weigel, otro entusiasta de «Unplanned»: la película destroza el orwelliano lenguaje abortista – Andoc

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