unplanned movie

An anti-abortion movie is screening in Toronto and people aren't happy

Toronto is protesting a new movie, which promotes “anti-abortion propaganda,” and is scheduled to begin screening at 14 Cineplex Entertainment theatres on Friday for one week.

Unplanned is based on the memoir of Abby Johnson, a former Texas Planned Parenthood clinic director who became an anti-abortion advocate. 

People in Toronto have scheduled a protest at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas on Friday to oppose the film. 

The movie has received backlash from abortion advocates who believe the film was created to subtly promote an anti-choice agenda disguised as a Hollywood film. The movie was produced by the Christian studio Pure Flix.

“If a white supremacy group made a film would [you] show it?” Goose Shipway, the Toronto protest organizer asked Sarah Van Lange, a Cineplex spokesperson, in an email last month.

It is up to the public to decide whether they would like to see the movie, Van Lange responded. “We have a long legacy of not censoring content and our role as a film exhibitor is to provide our guests with movie choices,” she said.

The President and CEO of Cineplex published an open letter letter today revealing that he has received "many phone calls and emails from Canadians on both sides of the conversation."

"The decision to move forward with screenings of this particular film was a complicated one," Ellis Jacob said. 

According to Van Lange, it is the provincial and territorial governments’ responsibilities to decide whether the movie is appropriate for viewing, based on the film classification boards that rank movies PG, 14A, 18A or R for restricted.

Unplanned had an R-rating in the United States, but it has a 14A rating in Ontario with a warning of disturbing content and gory scenes. 

“This is different. This isn’t whether or not a movie has swearing or sex in it. This film oppresses people with uterus* and that is NOT OK,” Shipway wrote.

Planned Parenthood Toronto said they have not seen the movie, but based on the reviews and trailer, “it seems the film is designed to spread a fiction and inaccurate depiction of Planned Parenthood specifically and abortions more broadly,” Sarah Hobbs Blyth, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Toronto, said.

People involved in making the film participated in a #MarchForLife protest in Ottawa in May and Brad Trost, a Conservative MP in Saskatoon who supports the anti-abortion movement, recently posted on Twitter that he thought it was "interesting" this film was "controversial."

The executive director of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada warned viewers that this is a “dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda” that contains “vicious falsehoods,” in a recent newsletter.

“But the film also aims to challenge abortion rights. That’s a non-starter in Canada,” Joyce Arthur wrote.

These sentiments are not limited to abortion advocacy groups. TV networks have refused to sell advertising time to publicize the film.

Protests are also being organized outside of theatres in Burlington, London, Ottawa and Cornwall on Friday.

Lead photo by

40 Days for Life

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