When Ashley Bratcher signed up for the role of Abby Johnson in the pro-life biopic “Unplanned,” she figured it was just a role — albeit one she believed in strongly.
“There was something about Abby that stuck with me. How could this incredibly passionate woman one day change her mind about everything she believed in? There had to be more to the story,” Bratcher wrote in a piece last week for Fox News.
“Within hours of auditioning, I had Googled every article and YouTubed every video I could find about Abby,” she said. “What I found left me in a puddle of tears on the floor. My heart was broken and my eyes were opened to the harsh reality of abortion. The experience that she described while working at Planned Parenthood shook me to my core.”
Johnson, a former clinic director at Planned Parenthood, has become a high-profile pro-life activist — and helped expose America’s top abortion mill along the way. Bratcher eventually got the role, although what happened next is something nobody could have prepared for.
As the hectic process of filming began, she got a call from her mother — a call which wasn’t exactly welcomed.
“When my mother called me on Saturday, I hesitantly answered. We’ve had a rocky relationship. I hadn’t told her where I was or what I was doing, and I knew that the project I was working on would make her emotional,” she said.
“When I was in high school, my mother shared with me that she’d had an abortion when she was 16. She had been devastated by her choice and 3 years later she found herself in the same predicament. At 19, she became pregnant with me. ‘I knew I could never have an abortion again,’ she told me.
“That was the end of the story,” Bratcher wrote. “It was a casual conversation. I never thought twice about it until it was time to explain ‘Unplanned.’
“As I began telling her Abby’s story, I heard her fall apart. Her voice broke as she said, ‘I need to tell you something that I’ve never told you before.’ Through tears she confessed, ‘I was going to abort you.’
“I sat in confused silence as she continued, ‘I was at the clinic sitting on the table when the nurse who was very pregnant came in to talk to me. I felt sick. I couldn’t do it. I got up and walked out.'”
The new information put Ashley in a place where she needed to process what was going on. She talked to her father, who confirmed he had pawned his shotgun to pay for the procedure. They felt they were too young to have a child.
Bratcher was left reeling. “When is the right time to tell her that you were going to abort her?” she wrote.
But pain and recrimination wasn’t what God had in store for her. As her crying father told her on the phone, “You being there making this movie is proof to me that God is so real. That he has a plan for your life.”
And indeed, this goes far beyond coincidence.
“I’m so grateful that my mother believed my life was more valuable than the price of a shotgun, that the money intended to end my life was used to give me life,” she wrote. “I’m grateful that God, through his providence, planted me here to tell my story and that I have the privilege of sharing this film with the world.
“And yes, I do secretly hope that one of the outcomes of all of these ‘coincidences’ is that many will find the courage my mother found when she listened to her conscience and made the choice that gave me life,” she concluded.
And it’s important enough that she’s willing to risk her career for it.
“I knew from the very beginning, they warned me, they said, ‘You’re probably gonna get blacklisted. This could end your career,’” Bratcher told Fox News. “I said, ‘I don’t care. It’s worth it.'”
The film, which opens this spring, is from the writers and co-producers of Christian film smash “God’s Not Dead.”
“All Abby Johnson ever wanted to do was help women. As one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the nation, she was involved in upwards of 22,000 abortions and counseled countless women about their reproductive choices. Her passion surrounding a woman’s right to choose even led her to become a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, fighting to enact legislation for the cause she so deeply believed in,” the movie’s website reads.
“Until the day she saw something that changed everything, leading Abby Johnson to join her former enemies at 40 Days For Life, and become one of the most ardent pro-life speakers in America.”
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