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Media Smear Pro-Life Film ‘Unplanned’ as ‘Propaganda,’ Too

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Abortion activists and their media allies regularly encourage women to publicly share their abortion stories. One woman, named Abby Johnson, is doing just that. But instead of promoting her, many in the media are mocking her message – a pro-life message – as “propaganda.” 


And, now, Google has too.

On March 29, Unplanned hit theaters with the true story of Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after assisting with an abortion. Two weeks later, on April 11, Google drew criticism for categorizing the film as “propaganda.” The tech giant later changed the label, explaining to Fox News that it had originally “analyzed web content” of Unplanned and found a “large volume of it described the film as propaganda.”

That’s not surprising considering that comedians like Samantha Bee and outlets like Variety and the Daily Beast have all smeared the film as “propaganda.”

Still, the film is a success story. To the surprise of the film industry, the movie opened with a $6 million debut and attracted the support of politicians like Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter. 

That’s because Johnson’s story is a powerful one. Before her change of heart, the 38 year old had two abortions of her own. Today, she leads And Then There Were None, a group that aids abortion workers in leaving their industry. 

It’s true the film didn’t win the media’s praise like other, positive abortion stories and movies. But that might be because Johnson’s story, unlike the others, exposes abortion for what it is: the ending of a human life.

Here are five media outlets and shows dismissing the film as propaganda:

‘Full Frontal’ with Samantha Bee

Comedian Samantha Bee opened her show by smearing Unplanned on April 3.


“Anti-choice propaganda movie Unplanned surprised audiences with a not awful showing at the box office,” she mocked the film’s success. Still, she insisted, “it’s obviously ridiculous and no one should see it.”

She regretted even having to mention the “mostly made up” film that sheds a bad light on the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t waste precious time talking about a movie so bad,” she added, “but the vice president tweeted about it.” 


Unlike Bee, film critic Owen Gleiberman actually watched the film. Still, he dismissed it as “effective propaganda” on March 29. 

“The movie comes on like it’s trying to make converts, but what it’s really doing is mobilizing those on the pro-life side to come out and vote for politicians who will step up the legal assault on abortion rights,” he argued. “The movie fuses melodramatic manipulation and cold calculation.” 

He also took issue that Planned Parenthood was “portrayed as an abortion factory” driven by profit.

“The only salvation comes when Abby stares at an ultrasound image and sees the light,” he concluded.”There’s no arguing with this point of view, and that’s the whole problem with it.”

But arguing is exactly what he and other media did.

The Cut

Senior writer Lisa Ryan warned about the “bizarre anti-abortion propaganda film” on April 9. 

Among other things, “It has come under fire for the grotesque way it depicts abortion procedures,” Ryan began, “in perhaps the most visceral example of this, the film opens with a scene … a gory and inaccurate portrayal of an abortion at 13 weeks.”


She also pointed out that the “film erroneously portrays Planned Parenthood as a ‘billion-dollar corporation’ dead set on profiting off abortion.” To contradict this, she cited the debunked statistic that Planned Parenthood “says that only 3 percent of its services are abortion-related.”

The Independent

Writing for the Independent, Molly Jong-Fast dismissed the “most maga move ever” on April 4.

“I was pretty sure that Unplanned would be much like CPAC — a Mobius strip of propaganda occasionally punctuated by the truly frightening or unintentionally hilarious — but the trailers had had an extremely high production value and that made me hope I might be entertained during the brain-washing,” she wrote. “Sadly, I was sorely mistaken.”

She called the story “deeply didactic and alarmingly cliched.”

“It played to all of MAGAworld’s deep-seated fears,” she said, like the Planned Parenthood employees who were shown as “unapologetically bad.” (Actually, they weren’t, even Slate credits the movie for humanizing them.)

The Daily Beast

On March 31, The Daily Beast tweeted about the “gory, R-rated anti-abortion film” that “paints Planned Parenthood as a powerful, bloodthirsty terrorist organization.”

TV critic Nick Schager called it “putrid” “propaganda.” According to him, it was the “cinematic equivalent of an anti-abortion pamphlet peddled by one of those holier-than-thou creeps who lurk outside clinics.”

For him, the movie “revels in fancifully grotesque abortion imagery” and he found Johnson’s story “so laughable as to be insulting.”


Like Jong-Fast, he took issue with the film’s portrayal of Planned Parenthood.
The film “contends that abortion is unholy slaughter facilitated by immoral monetary transactions that enrich a tyrannical non-profit organization—all of which is an affront to God,” he concluded. “Those who agree will enjoy bathing in its pious ugliness. The rest will likely come away feeling an urgent desire to donate to Planned Parenthood.”

He and others in the media not only dismissed the film, but also assumed the worst intentions of the filmmakers and Johnson. But until abortion supporters truly consider Johnson’s story – or even take a step back to see why it speaks to so many Americans – they’ll always underestimate the pro-life movement and its fight for the intrinsic worth of every human person from the moment of conception.

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