What do Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Tim Tebow, Pope John Paul II, Steve Jobs, and Ashley Bratcher -the actress who will be playing the part of Abby Johnson in the upcoming movie version of Abby. Johnson’s book Unplanned? All of these people were almost aborted.
Ashley Bratcher shares in various videos (including a 40-Days for Life website podcast https://40daysforlife.com/?powerpress_pinw=32533-podcast ) that when she took the leading role in Unplanned, she wasn’t ambivalent about life — but she wasn’t exactly passionate about it either. Then came the revelation that turned her world upside down. Ashley, who was about to star in a movie about abortion, had almost been aborted.
Like a lot of actresses, Bratcher had no idea who Abby Johnson was when she first auditioned for the part. She recounts that “I was given just six pages. Six pages that ignited my curiosity… How could this incredibly [devoted] woman one day change her mind about everything she believed in? There had to be more to the story.”
Most of us have probably heard the story by now… In the fall of 2009 Abby Johnson, the former director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas was in the room, as a doctor was doing an abortion using an ultrasound to guide his instruments. As the doctor started to snuff out another life, Abby Johnson watched on the ultrasound monitor screen and decided in that moment to change her view on abortion. Johnson, an eight year veteran of the abortion movement and director of the Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, had indirectly overseen 22,000 unborn children aborted during her tenure. Soon after, Johnson turned in her resignation. “I just thought I can’t do this anymore, and it was just like a flash hit me. [A]nd I thought, that’s it.”
But now, Abby’s conversion is just one part of the story. Thanks to a brave mom, this film’s cast is living proof that choosing life changes lives. By the time Ashley got the job, she says, “A fire was lit inside of me. I was convicted.” Things moved so fast, she explains, she barely had time to tell her family about the project before she was on set in Oklahoma. When she finally talked to her mom, she was concerned that telling her about the plot would upset her. “When I was in high school,” Ashley remembers, “my mother shared with me that she’d had an abortion when she was 16.” It devastated her, Ashley writes in a column on Fox. Three years later, at 19, “she became pregnant with me. ‘I knew I could never have an abortion again,’ she told me.”
But Ashley had no idea how close she’d come. Through a stream of tears on the phone, her mom’s voice broke. “I need to tell you something that I’ve never told you before.” She paused, “I was going to abort you.” Ashley sat in stunned silence as her mom went on. “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… and I chose you.”
Later that night, Ashley called her dad. “Is this true? Why didn’t someone tell me?” she pleaded. They thought they were too young to have a baby, he said. “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, Ashley wonders? “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.” But, as her dad sobbed on the phone, she heard the words that give her story so much meaning. “You being there making this movie is proof to me that God is so real. That he has a plan for your life.”
There are almost 60 million other voices we’ll never hear, inventions we’ll never have, and football games we’ll never watch because of abortion. If Ashley’s story and Abby’s story and so many other mothers’ stories can save just one life, it will have been worth it.
“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.”
The movie opens on March 29.