2019 has been a paradoxical year for pro-lifers. In one respect, it has brought many disappointments: the passage of the Reproductive Health Act in New York, the failure of Senator Ben Sasse’s bill to protect abortion survivors, and the continued saga of public officials (including baptized Catholics) peddling the line that, in order to truly care for women, the nation must expand abortion rights. Banal news headlines, inflamed op-ed columns, and vitriolic twitterstorms have shaped recent discourse on abortion to the detriment of compassionate, meaningful dialogue.
However, it is within this present social context that Unplanned—the pro-life film and unexpected box office success—recently debuted. People are still flocking to theatres to see the movie that chronicles Abby Johnson’s journey from clinic director at Planned Parenthood to ardent defender of unborn life. Though a beautiful and hopeful story, Unplanned does not shy away from the harsh realities of abortion, depicting the violence of Abby’s personal abortion experiences, the sorrow of families scourged by this decision, and the bitter weeping of women gripped by fear and agony. Many of us at Overbrook—myself included—returned after seeing this film changed. While we may not have needed the movie to show us right from wrong on this issue, many of us gained new perspectives from it: hearing the voices of women, families, and clinicians who have walked this sorrowful road.
Unplanned was truly well done, with many memorable and poignant scenes. Yet the most impactful one for me, interestingly, was at the end. In the final scene, Abby affixes red and white roses to the fence surrounding the closed clinic where she once worked. As she looks back and begins to walk away from the property, a familiar tune begins to play: the melody of the centuries-old Christian hymn of praise Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat! (Christ conquers, Christ rules, Christ commands!) As the clinic’s sign in Bryan, Texas is torn down and its grounds are transformed from a place of deception and death into one of holy remembrance and life-giving prayer, the chant of Christ’s victory rings out joyfully.
This is the very message of Easter: that, by His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ conquered the reign of evil once and for all. With the Resurrected Lord, sin and death do not have the last word. Rather, He reigns and He commands that we—His brothers and sisters—live in this glorious light, drawing others to see how beautiful it is.
The tune of our march as a Catholic and pro-life family is not one of defeat, even though 2019 has brought its share of stumbling blocks and, at times, has made us feel powerless. Instead, our prayer this Easter season is a hymn of hope for victory because, with Christ, the cause of life will win. Unplanned reminds us of just that.