The upcoming anti-abortion movie Unplanned, produced by the same company that brought you the cinematic classic God’s Not Dead, has been given an R-rating by the MPAA, potentially limiting the audience that will see it.
The reason has nothing to do with sex or profanity. Rather, the film shows graphic images of bloody fetuses, and showing blood along with a dead anything is usually more than enough to earn the rating.
But the film’s supporters are treating it as persecution.
The filmmakers told MovieGuide, that the only violence in the film is “ violence directly associated with the abortion process.” They added, “Ironically, the MPAA seems to be indirectly endorsing the pro-life position: namely that abortion is an act of violence.” Anti-abortion content is frequently criticized for being grisly and traumatizing, even by those sympathetic to the pro-life cause.
In their statement, they said, “Even more ironically, as a result of the MPAA’s decision to give us a ‘Restricted’ rating, many teenage women in this country who can legally obtain an actual abortion without parental permission will be prohibited from going to see our film containing simulated images of abortion, without obtaining parental permission.” However, they said that they are not planning on contesting the rating.
Just how violent do the producers believe abortions are? By far, the vast majority occur very early in a pregnancy and never result in some bloody fetal corpse. It’s not like Planned Parenthood is some Saw-like torture chamber, with staffers walking around carrying meat cleavers and medieval instruments. To paraphrase the saying, this is what happens when you treat a paper cut like a decapitation.
I never expected this film to responsibly tackle the complexity and nuances that are wrapped up in the abortion debate. I can’t imagine that showing only the most graphic kinds of abortions will do much to change anyone’s mind.
A better use of the producers’ time would be to show the daily hardships of the kind of women who depend on Planned Parenthood most. Show viewers the situations that lead women to choose abortions. Show viewers a mother’s heartbreaking decision to let her already-born kids split a can of beans while she goes on her third day without food, or a teenager’s inability to procure birth control. Hey, if the producers want to be honest, why not show all sides?