HBO Fights Back

Pro-Choice Film to Stream on Major TV Platform

In 2019, the film Unplanned hit theaters, covering the true story of a former abortion clinic director, Abby Johnson, who changed her views about abortion after she actually witnessed one being performed. Pro-lifers hailed the movie and applauded Johnson’s testimony and courage, much to the chagrin of pro-choice opponents. This year, HBO may be seeking retaliation by planning the release of a movie called Unpregnant.[1] The film, streaming on HBO as of September 10th, revolves around the unwanted pregnancy of a 17-year-old girl, Veronica (played by Haley Lu Richardson) and her desperate quest to travel to Albuquerque for an abortion procedure. To pull this off successfully, she enlists her childhood friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira) and the two embark on what the trailer depicts as something a road trip adventure.

Watching the trailer myself, (I don’t plan on watching the film) the dark destination of this road trip is disguised by a sort of coming of age story, as well as the renewal of Veronica’s friendship with Bailey. There was a point in the preview when it seems like the story mainly revolves around this relationship, perhaps making its appeal to the angsty teenage demographic all the more appealing. But the actual intention of Unpregnant is obvious. Abortion is seen not as an evil, or even an unfortunate event that should be sought to be avoided at all costs. It is painted as an expression of autonomy and self-will, and therefore seen as a undeniable good. It is fervently sought out. 

I wrote recently on the Salvo blog about the increasing tendency of the film industry to push a progressive vision of sexuality.[2] Clearly, abortion is included in this ideological quest. And Unpregnant is doing with abortion what its proponents have long insisted on accomplishing: guising the death of the unborn with the exaltation of choice and individual desire. When this film is in reality about a dismal journey to kill an unborn child, it looks like a story of joy, friendship, adolescent expression, and self-actualization. While the pressures to abort a baby can clearly be heavy for a girl Veronica’s age, (the movie Juno, starring Ellen Page, is a great example) it’s saddening to think that a road trip to an abortion clinic is regarded as the only sane solution to the problem of an unwanted pregnancy. In Juno, Ellen Page’s character visits an abortion clinic but changes her mind the last minute, choosing instead to go through the unwanted experience of a teenage pregnancy. However, the baby ultimately finds a home with a loving mother and Juno returns to her normal high school life. It turns out to not be the end of the world. She surrendered herself to momentary shame so her baby could enjoy long lasting life and opportunity.

While it is easy to bash movies like Unpregnant, it can be helpful to pry a little deeper and look at the harmful ideas underlying movies like these. The secular worldview of individual freedom, choice, and untethered autonomy has gone so far as to literally exclude other human life from enjoying the same “rights.” This seems evident but is rarely recognized in the pro-choice circles. If we were given the chance to life, the next generation should too. And as members of the Church, it is the biblical prerogative to care for the least of God’s children in the world, including the marginalized and vulnerable. This vision of God’s love for every human person (including the pro-choice abortionist!) is what sustains our vision for life across all ages and at every stage of biological development. It would be easy to point a finger at HBO and shout mere judgments, but what is really needed is an alternative vision–one that is better, more beautiful, and truly just. The biblical vision offers this.


graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois with a Bachelor's Degree in English Writing and is currently pursuing a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University. He was born and raised in rural Oklahoma and currently lives in Walla Walla, Washington. 

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