I've always considered myself pro-life but certainly not an activist. I had no idea who Abby Johnson was when I first auditioned to play her in the biopic “Unplanned.” I was given just six pages. Six pages that ignited my curiosity.
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.
Within hours of auditioning, I had Googled every article and YouTubed every video I could find about Abby.
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.
A fire was lit inside of me. I was convicted.
Nearly a month later, when I finally got the call that the role was mine, organized chaos ensued. I needed to pack for 7 weeks and get on a plane within 5 hours.
I arrived in Oklahoma on a Thursday, set to begin filming on Monday. Things happened so quickly that most of my friends and family had no idea I had even left.
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.
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. 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.”
I didn't know what to say. I needed time to process what I'd just heard. It didn't make sense. How could it be possible that I was here telling Abby's story while never having known my own?
Later that night I called my dad. It wasn't an easy conversation to have. I pleaded, “Is this true? Why didn't someone tell me?” He confirmed the details of the experience. They agreed they were too young to have a baby. “We didn't have enough money so I pawned a shotgun so we could pay for the abortion."
How do you tell your daughter that? When is the right time to tell her that you were going to abort her?” I don't know how to put in words what it feels like to learn you were seconds away from never existing.
He sobbed 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.”
It's incredible, and at times incomprehensible to me, that this is my story.
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.
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.