Controversial anti-abortion film to hit big screen in Cold Lake today

Image credit: unplannedfilm.com. 

A local movie theatre is screening an anti-abortion film that has pro-choice groups angry at its showing.

Unplanned, from the Christian production company Pure Flix, begins its run at Grand Square Cinema in Cold Lake today.

It is based on the true story of Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson who becomes an anti-abortion speaker.

The American film has sparked controversy as columnists in the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail have called the movie biased, social and political propaganda.

Last week, threats allegedly made against the Shuswap movie theatre in British Columbia prompted the cinema to cancel its showing.

The Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition called the movie propaganda and said it sends an alarming message.

“Abortion is healthcare – Canadians are upset about this piece of American anti-abortion propaganda. Abortion has been treated as healthcare here since 1988; it is a normal medical procedure. We have seen how anti-abortion policy hurts pregnant people in the US, it will not be tolerated in Canada,” a spokesperson for the coalition said in a written response.

They take umbrage with a scene in the movie with the main character Abby.

The coalition said that in the movie she bleeds for eight weeks after taking the drug RU-486, a drug commonly used to induce abortions, for an eight-week pregnancy.

They say bleeding after a miscarriage generally stops after two weeks.

“Not only are they providing misinformation and trying to instill fear into people seeking an abortion, but they are also terrorizing and misinforming people that may experience a miscarriage. As 10-20 per cent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, this is a significant number of people they are targeting. By demonizing the use of mifegymiso (RU-486), they may increase barriers to the provision of a very effective drug to manage miscarriages.”

The Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition also said the portrayal of doctors in the movie was problematic and found the movie, “very white, very religious and very paternalist and poorly done from a movie standpoint.”

Pastor Ben Smith of the Bonnyville Baptist disagrees with the “bully tactics” used by the pro-choice groups.

He said whether people agree on the issue or not, there should be respect in the process.

“I think it is everybody’s right to have a stance on both being either pro-choice or pro-life. It’s not my place to tell you what to believe.

“We should have good debate, we should have informed debate. And we should respect each other when we go through that process. If we do not give someone the ability or the platform to be able to communicate what they believe is the truth, then we’re not a free society at all,” he said.

“I need to be respectful when I engage other people with other ideas. And so when pro-choice calls it dangerous, when they bully or give death threats to theatre owners for showing the movie, I think that’s highly inappropriate.”

May Theatres has oversight on film selections at the Grand Square Cinema but could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this week, Cineplex defended their decision to screen the film in an open letter.

“When I immigrated to Canada back in 1969, one of the things that I loved, and still love, the most about living here was that we don’t shy away from our difference – we embrace,” said Ellis Jacob, President, and CEO of Cineplex.

“Canada is a country that believes in and rallies behind freedom of expression, but that isn’t always an easy thing to do and it certainly doesn’t always make you popular. In this instance, many of us will have to set aside our own personal beliefs and remember that living in a country that censors content, opinions, and points of view because they are different from our own is not a country that any of us would want to live in.”

The film hits selected big screens across Canada today.