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I was “Unplanned.”

I can still remember the day in my teens when I heard my mom (she had a way of getting my attention) say “Larry, you know you weren’t planned.” Something inside of me recoiled as she continued to tell me that, if she followed the lead of her protestant friends, I would never have been born. My mom then provided some context. After four boys and a girl (perfection that turned into love-hate), she and my father had what they felt was enough. Then, there was Larry….and Mark….and Peter…

I tread lightly in speaking out on matters that could be viewed as political, because the divisive tone that marks our culture is so unhealthy. Today, I have decided not to rail, but to explain and appeal. I recently saw the movie "Unplanned," which gives the account of Abby Johnson, who was one of the youngest directors of a Planned Parenthood clinic ever. She was asked to assist in a second trimester, ultrasound aided abortion and what she saw so violated her conscience that she left her job and eventually became a pro-life advocate. You may have not heard of this film because of how information is disseminated or blocked, as it appears to be in this case. As it turns out, FoxNews and CBN (predictably) are the only two networks that will run ads for "Unplanned," ensuring that this story is kept in the back alleys of the culture and not in the bright lights of other stories of transformation. There appears to be a commitment by many in the industry to keep Abby’s transformation in the dark. As the Washington Post’s motto says, “Democracy Dies in Darkness." Darkness seldom serves any good.

The film was also given an R rating. There are usually three reasons for an R rating. Sexual nudity, unsavory language or gratuitous violence. There was no vulgarity or nudity in this film--the rating was due to violence. The question becomes violence against whom? What I saw in this film was indeed violent, but I have been exposed to equal or more graphic violence on any of the many "CSI" or "NCIS" shows that exist on major networks of our day. I went to the movie with a police veteran and our eyes met as we both turned our heads away at the same time--during the procedure, where a child was obviously fighting to avoid the invasion to their uterine home. It was horrific.

And herein lies my appeal. There was violence against a human, a baby. What turned Abby’s stomach and heart and life was not a tissue mass, but a child seeking to avoid death at the hands of an intruder with legal sanction. A victim. Helpless. Hopeless. But not worthless. This is why Abby now champions life. Not only for the child, but the mother as well. To be truly pro-life is to seek the welfare of all.

I would encourage you to see "Unplanned" (it is playing today, April 11, in Hudson). I will not say it is unbiased, but I do think it gives a realistic picture of what is going on and what is at stake. I do recognize there are often many difficult and challenging circumstances that would lead a woman to consider an abortion. As a man, I could never fully appreciate the challenges many women face when "unplanned"’ becomes their reality. We are at our best when we are caring for both mother and child. We are at our best when that care extends beyond birth.

For the record, I never felt unwanted. My mom assured me of that on the day I recoiled and throughout the rest of her life that I was wanted. But I was unplanned. Thanks, mom. I can’t wait for the day to tell you one more time face to face.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life


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