November 30, 2020

‘Deeply troubled’ by apparent discrimination agains pro-life film

Few critics expected the new film Unplanned to rise to the top of the box office charts. But the true story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate, has done just that. This success comes in spite of critical and commercial obstacles.

Unplanned finished fourth at the box office in its opening week because of the power of Mrs. Johnson’s story. Like many pro-choice Americans, she held her view out of a desire to help women with unwanted pregnancies. But when confronted by Planned Parenthood’s practices, the brutality of abortion, and her realization that life begins at conception, she changed her mind. She now fights to end abortion.

The movie’s success coincides with troubling news that media companies may be undermining the film’s marketing efforts. Many television networks apparently refused to run ads promoting Unplanned; the movie’s Twitter account was suspended; and followers were removed from its social media lists without their knowledge.

As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I take reports of media bias seriously. As I wrote in a letter to television networks, “Amid myriad claims of media platforms silencing conservative voices, I am deeply troubled by these reports.” If these platforms are discriminating against pro-life content, then the public has a right to know.

A Persuasive Message That Needs to be Heard

The pro-life movement’s goals will take time to achieve, but public opinion is moving in the cause’s favor. There are also positive state-level developments, including Mississippi’s recent success banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be heard. President Trump has taken welcome action by expanding the Mexico City policy prohibiting foreign aid to abortion providers. And a strengthening grassroots coalition heard in the halls of Congress gives me confidence that there is progress.

The success of Unplanned bolsters that confidence. It is a story about how one person changed course and now works to help others change theirs. Pro-life advocates should continue to be in the persuasion business so that there will be more stories like Mrs. Johnson’s.

Sonograms and Science are Helping

Persuasion and scientific advancements like sonograms revealing fetal hands, feet, and the miracle of human life have grown the pro-life movement since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Polls indicate that the millennial generation – which came of age holding pictures of its brothers, sisters, and now children in the womb – is more pro-life than the previous generation.

I remember witnessing my first March for Life as a young staffer for then-Congressman Trent Lott in 1981. It has grown since and become one of the largest annual events in the capital. Hundreds of marchers from Mississippi join every year.

This grassroots movement has sparked real action on Capitol Hill. The Senate confirms pro-life judges to the bench and annually passes the Hyde Amendment, barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions in the United States. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, and I will continue to fight for its passage. However, the fact that only three Democratic senators voted for the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” shows how extreme pro-abortion activists have become.

Mrs. Johnson’s work and the young faces of a growing anti-abortion movement are powerful answers to those on the other side who prevent these bills from becoming laws. Changing hearts and minds is the ultimate answer for those of us who want to protect life.