‘Unplanned’ star opens up about her own unplanned pregnancy

01 April 2019

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

Ashley Bratcher, star of the film Unplanned, opened up about her own unplanned pregnancy during an interview on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

The film tells the story of Abby Johnson’s conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life leader. After becoming pro-life, Johnson later converted to Catholicism and went on to found And Then There Were None, a ministry that helps abortion clinic workers leave their jobs.

Bratcher, who portrays Johnson in the film, wrote on Facebook earlier this month that she has her own Unplanned story.

“My Unplanned baby turned 9 today,” Bratcher wrote in the post honouring her son.

In an interview with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly’s Catherine Hadro, Bratcher said that she had a “sense of shame” about her pregancy since she wasn’t married at the time, and spent “a lot of years keeping it a secret.”

Her role in Unplanned, Bratcher said, made her realize that sharing her own story would “empower a lot of people to share and say, ‘I chose life.’”

Contrary to those who told her she would throw away her acting career by having a child, Bratcher said she knew she could “have a successful, very happy life with a child.”

“Yeah, I was scared,” she said. “I was young, I didn’t know how things were going to go, I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t married, but I knew that there was this incredible life growing inside of me.”

Abby Johnson

Bratcher explained that though her journey was worthwhile, it wasn’t easy.

“I just remember calling out to God at that time and saying, ‘God, what is my purpose here? I don’t understand, I don’t understand what I’m doing here,” she said.

It was during that time, Bratcher said, that she came to understand God’s love, “because if I could love this little, tiny person growing inside of me that much, how much more God must love me.”

Bratcher said that her son “saved me.”

“He taught me to love unconditionally, and what it meant to put someone else ahead of myself,” she said. “And having my child empowered me, because it made me want to be a better person, it made me fight for something, it just taught me so much about life because I chose to have him.”

Asked what she would tell women facing unplanned pregnancies, Bratcher replied that “there are people who will love you and stand by you.”

“You may think that this is the end of your life, or the end of your career,” she continued. “That’s just a lie, that is a lie that society has perpetuated right now to make you believe—and that’s something Planned Parenthood is really good at doing—is saying, ‘you can’t be successful and have a child, you can’t have a fulfilling career or a happy life and have a child.’

“And what abortion does is it preys on that vulnerability. It makes women believe that they really can’t, when in reality, having a child is one of the most empowering things that you can do.”

Bratcher also said that it is “critical” that Unplanned has a successful opening weekend, which is “make or break it for a film.”

“If they want to support this cause, and they want to show the culture that this is important, that we can change society’s view on abortion, we need them to show up,” she said.

Abortion and life issues in the film industry took an unexpected turn the day before the film’s release. On March 28, a group of actors published an open letter threatening to boycott the state of Georgia if its governor signed a bill banning abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

The signatories, who include Alec Baldwin, Don Cheadle, Rosie O’Donnell, Gabrielle Union, and Sean Penn, called the pro-life bill “dangerous and deeply-flawed” and pledged to were to do “everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women” if it should pass.

Since 2016, Georgia has become the leading state for the production of feature films, eclipsing even California, due in large part to the state’s generous tax initiatives for production companies.

Bratcher, who herself lives in Georgia, offered her own response in defense of life and the state where she lives.

“I’m incredibly proud of my home state for taking a stand in the fight for life amidst backlash and dubious threats,” she wrote in an open letter carried by Deadline, the site which carried the actors’ original letter.

“In Georgia, we care just as much about being pro-life as being pro-film” and that Georgians “don’t believe in putting a price tag on human life.” Rather than foolish, Bratcher said that she thinks Georgia’s pro-life politicians are “brave.”

Noting the economic pressure the protesting actors were trying to bring to bear, Bratcher offered a simple observation about the relative priorities of the two issues.

“How sad is it that tax credits are a more important topic than the sanctity of human life?”

Unplanned opened in theatres on March 29. Grandin Media is attempting to find Canadian screening dates, times and locations. The story will be updated once that information is available.