The crusade against reproductive rights has been ramping up in recent months and years. Conservative states are regularly attempting to pass restrictive abortion laws, and certain politicians are extremely vocal about their desire to repeal Roe v. Wade. So it’s not too surprising that an anti-abortion movie called Unplanned recently made its way into theaters. What is alarming, though, is the fact that the movie has done better than expected at the box office—despite many glaring inaccuracies.
The New York Times reports that despite a lack of press attention, Unplanned earned back its $6 million budget during its opening weekend, and during the weekend of April 5th, the number of theaters offering screenings increased by 500. On Twitter, influential politicians including Senator Ted Cruz and Vice President Mike Pence urged their followers to see it.
However, several aspects of the film have struck critics as questionable (to put it mildly). The Times noted that the film includes a scene in which a 13-week-old fetus is “twisting and fighting for its life” during an abortion procedure. However, Jennifer Villavicencio, a fellow for the nonpartisan American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, called the scene misleading and inaccurate, noting that a fetus at that stage does not have the neurological passageways to feel pain or register fear. “There is no neurological capability for awareness of danger,” Villavicencio said. “That part of the brain is simply not there yet.”
The movie also depicts Planned Parenthood as a “billion-dollar corporation” with donors including George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, according to The Daily Beast. One character even apparently compares abortions to the “fries and soda” that make money for fast food chains. Of course, in real life, Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit that has had its funding threatened in multiple states. And the organization’s website states that abortions make up only 3% of its overall health services—a far cry from “sodas and fries” at McDonald’s.
Unplanned is based on a memoir by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became an anti-abortion activist after watching a doctor terminate a 13-week pregnancy (it’s worth noting that after the memoir was published, Texas Monthly reported that clinic records indicate Johnson hadn’t observed any abortions on the day she claimed she did).
The inaccuracies in Unplanned aren’t just frustrating—they’re dangerous, because they intentionally misinform potential voters. And it’s even more unsettling that several mainstream politicians are promoting it. If you’re looking for a way to undermine this film’s harmful message, consider donating to Planned Parenthood today if you’re able to.