Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director, speaks to reporters May 8. Behind her is Peace River-Westlock Conservative MP Arnold Viersen, chairman of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

Blockbuster pro-life movie ‘Unplanned’ banned from Canadian movie theatres

Free screening to be held at the Edmonton Expo Centre May 14

Canadian movie distributors have de facto censored the movie Unplanned from screening in theatres here says the movie’s producers.

“We have been effectively blocked from distributing the film in Canada,” said producer Lisa Wheeler at an Ottawa news conference May 8.

Unplanned is based on the Abby Johnson’s memoir Unplanned: the dramatic true story of an Planned Parenthood director.

“What we’re seeing is that the film industry in Canada mirrors the film industry here in the United States, in terms of being more politically progressive, left leaning and pro-choice than the population at large,” said Chuck Konzelman, the film’s writer/producer/director in an email interview.

“So our project is essentially anathema to them, and they see excluding us from Canada as ‘positive good’… effectively enacting de facto censorship, without right of appeal.”

The movie has exceeded all expectations at the box office, earning about $18 million in its U.S. run, he said.

The two largest distributors in Canada cited ‘content’ as the issue, “not lack of consumer demand,” Konzelman said.

“And this follows on the heels of universal rejection every Canadian distributor we approached, and whose participation is required – by law – in order to exhibit a film theatrically throughout much of Canada,” he said.

“In fact, we can’t even get a rating by any of the provincial film boards, since one of the mandatory items on the application for each province is for us to list our distributor.”

However, since the May 8 press conference, the Alberta government has given the movie a 14A rating with a warning of disturbing content.

In Edmonton, a private screening of Unplanned will be held May 14 in the Expo Centre. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and admission is free. The screening is sponsored by Harvest Ministries International.

“I would like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not,” Abby Johnson told the news conference the day before the National March for Life. “I have to wonder what they’re afraid of.”

Last September, Johnson was the guest speaker at benefit for the Alberta Life Issues Society, which runs The Back Porch, an Edmonton pregnancy resource centre.

Johnson said she left Planned Parenthood in October 2009 for two reasons. The first was that she was told “we needed to double our abortion quota, the number of abortions we had to sell,” she said, noting that policy went against the mantra around abortion that it should be “safe, legal and rare.”

But the coup de grace for Johnson, in a gripping scene portrayed in the film Unplanned, was viewing an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13 week pre-born child.

“Seeing that child fight and struggle for his life against the abortion instrument,” made her realize “there was life in the womb, humanity in the womb.”

As a “proud feminist,” Johnson said she realized “what I had seen in the womb was a grave injustice.”

“I now go around the world, speaking about against abortion and the abortion industry,” said Johnson, who is the co-founder and director of And Then There Were None, an organization dedicated to helping abortion workers “get out of their jobs.”

Her organization has helped about 500 abortion workers leave the industry. Since the movie Unplanned played in 2,000 screens in the U.S. even more abortion workers are contacting her.

Johnson said she is deeply troubled by the lack of legal protection for the unborn in Canada.

“I’m also deeply concerned that many people here have not been able to speak publicly, because they are concerned about punishment,” she said. “That is not democracy; that is oppression.”

Johnson said she knows of Canadian women who have come to the U.S. for late-term abortions paid for by Canadian tax dollars. The fact these women have to leave Canada for the procedure is a sign Canadians are uneasy about the issue and that is far from “settled,” Johnson said.

She pointed out Canada abolished slavery in 1834. “What would have happened if people in Canada had convinced themselves they not going to concern ourselves with slavery because the issue is settled?”

“It should concern all of us,” Johnson said. “We should never look at any form of injustice and call it settled.”

Wheeler said there are two ways Canadians can see Unplanned. They can rent buses and drive to the United States, or independent groups and parishes can obtain a license to screen the movie.

“We’re not defeated by this,” Wheeler said. “Canadians want Unplanned here.”

Neither of Canada’s big chains have any plans to exhibit Unplanned.

“The film Unplanned presently does not have a distributor in Canada to market and undertake the necessary work, including for example securing the applicable provincial sensor certifications, to release the film across the country,” said Jack Gardner, vice-president of marketing, sales and content programming for Landmark cinemas.

“At one point, the film was to be distributed in Canada by Level Films, and since that time, the producers have unsuccessfully secured a partner to distribute the film in Canada.”

“The producers have inquired as to Landmark’s interest in distributing the film directly, and we are seeking additional information in regards to evaluating this scenario as we do not distribute films, but rather exhibit films in partnership with a films’ distributor,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Cineplex said no distributor had approached them about exhibiting Unplanned.

Konzelman said either chain could let distributors know they were interested in showing the movie and Unplanned a “distributor would jump to the fore.”

“Given the censorship in place, individual sponsorship is the only way in which we will be able to show in Canada,” Konzelman said. “We will be granting licences for individual showings, at a time and place of the sponsor’s choosing  — which can be a theater, if desired, or a parish hall, or any other venue.”

Anyone interested in arranging for a sponsored showing should send an email to chuck@unplannedmovie.com

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53 thoughts on “Blockbuster pro-life movie ‘Unplanned’ banned from Canadian movie theatres

  1. This is absolutely unreal! I’m ashamed to live in Canada. We are the country that will protest the inhumane lol cooking of lobster, but not that of an unborn child? Its sickening and it should be known from both aspects. Keeping a child or killing it…keep your damn legs closed or make sure you are protected!

  2. I am an adult . How is it that the theatres are telling me what should and should not be allowed . How can Shades of Grey or John Wick be allowed, but Unplanned not ?
    Everyday another freedom is being taken away in Canada . Here it’s the freedom of choice .

  3. We need to support this movie. It’s full of facts. Has everybody go blood crazy. Why is it all of a sudden everyone is wanting the blood of an innocent baby on their resume? Are they so naïve to think that it is not a one-way ticket to hell?

  4. Quisiera que está película fuera vista en mí país ( Cuba ), sobre todo para los jóvenes, y padres. La conciencia del ser humano tiene más peso que la ley de un país, por lo que debe trabajarse sin descanso en la defensa del no nato, que no puede hablar pero tiene un corazón que grita y late para ser defendido, con el derecho de nacer. Hay muchas formas, cómo la adopción, antes de tirarlo a la basura. defiendo 100 % que sea prohibido el aborto en el mundo entero,y la película tenga también el derecho de ser vista

  5. You folks are all pro birth extremists, the American version of Sharia law and the Taliban trying to control women, not save children. Not a one of you has the courage to say what you really are.

    1. Where does it end ? Who is it that decides what is or what not is allowed . This is the eroding of freedom .

    1. Hi Audrey, thanks for reading. The two companies referenced in the story are Cineplex Odeon and Landmark. Thanks, Andrew Ehrkamp, editor.

  6. In this broken wretched social construct we force women to have babies. This is the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. The second most horrifying is the fact that the Medical business that in the States pushes these for profit.

  7. This movie should be required viewing for all primary schools.
    Children will be horrified to know that kill4cash abortionists would have coerced their own vulnerable Mothers to crush their skulls in the womb…
    Children have better morals than the delusional duplicitous fiberal hypocrite satanists..!!!
    trugrope & co. are demented LIARS..!!!
    Call & arrange for “Unplanned” to be screened at your local cineplex! screw the leftwing supremacist bigot “distributors”…
    BECOME YOUR OWN DISTRIBUTOR..!!!!

  8. Have they also banned X rated pornographic movies and R rated violent movies as well? I wonder who’s palms are being greased here.

  9. Better not, if you ever want me or mine in you theaters again…it is the truth and it is time people started to see the real story and not just the ”oh its only a blob, oh, no it doesn’t hurt”…

  10. Open minded and progressive is certainly NOT what springs to mind when I read this disappointing news. A blight and definite step backwards for Canada as a country and the theatre group.

  11. Canadian Oppression. I want to see this film! I’m forced to see advertising and political agendas. Have my children learn only government approved propoganda at school. Listen to all the conformist on talk shows. I’m ashamed that there there is little back bone in the country regarding contraversial topics. I am moved by the passion of pro life stance south of the border. I want to see the story.

  12. I am very much against killing babies, if the left does it or anyone else, there is coming a day that God will deal with them,and it won’t be nice.

    1. Why do you consider this to be a good call by the theatres? It is a true story, told by the person involved. Why should a minority block what the majority of the people would like to see?
      Theatres are in business to make money, many thousands are willing to pay to see this picture.
      What is your personal problem with it?
      Thank you, if you will respond.

      1. I think it more likely it’s a minority of people that want to see this movie. I know several women who went to Planned Parenthood for help. None not them were pressured for or against abortion. Thei options were explained and questions answered. Some did opt for van abortion, others did not. And Canadians have gone to the US, only due to a lack of available services in Canada. Between hospitals owned by religious organizations, who refuse to provide legal medical procedures (including those that prevent pregnancy and thus prevent abortions).
        The movie business has been the same in Canada for many years. You convince a distributer to handle your movie and they handle the provincial ratings and if it’s approved, books it into theatres. I’m sure showings will bring out protesters and I expect that’s why none of the distributees want anything to do with it. Plus it’s not likely to turn a profgit. It’s quoted US earnings are peanuts as movies go. Art house film numbers.
        Theatres want filled seats for at least a couple of vweeks, for any movie they bring in. This one isn’t likely to do it.

    2. When? Don’t those who want to see the movie have the right to see the movie without the progressive left deciding formus. This is Censorship is it not? So you don’t agree with the movie so nobody can see it?

  13. We have made many enquiries about getting the movie to Chilliwack, but so far, there has not been any positive response. Kindly let us know, if there is something that we should do about
    this. Our church would be prepared to show it, if it were available as a DVD. Please let us know when it will come out in another format. Blessings & prayers.

  14. Well that’s total discrimination against my rights to choose what I want to view at the theater.
    Talk about government control over us Canadians.

  15. Disturbed a true story won’t play in Canada but any movie that depicts violence in any other way, fantasy or real is okay???

  16. Disturbed a true story won’t play in Canada but any movie that depicts violence in any other way is fantasy or real is okay???

  17. Not only will I boycott these theatres, I will speak out about the censorship! I’ve spoken with folks at our MP and our MPP’s offices. Of course neither have gotten back to me, but I will persevere! God’s children are worth the effort. I’ve been blessed to be one of the few Canadians to have actually viewed Unplanned – on Canadian soil! The content is such that at times I sat with tears streaming down my face, at other times I laughed and I cheered with my fellow Canadians. This movie is a MUST SEE for anyone, who has human chromosomes coursing through their body. The Canadian film industry is afraid that what happened in the States, will happen in Canada. That is, people will see the truth and respond. Heaven knows we wouldn’t want Canadians to make an informed decision. It wouldn’t go with the agenda that is being forced upon us by the far left and their cronies. If Canadians saw this, they would no longer be able to sit silently by as we murdered yet another 300 children a day, here in our Truth North Strong and Free. Freedom suggests that we have choice. Apparently, we are not free unless we align ourselves with the free for all genocide that is being perpetrated daily, here in Canada. Proud to be Canadian? Evil persists only when good people remain silent. Be silent no more!

  18. It is outright murder of our babies. It is against the Ten Commandments to not kill.

  19. The Left are fascists, . . If your beliefs do not correspond to theirs, they will do whatever’s necessary, to stifle you. Conservatism, will have to fight this tyranny, with our last breath . .

  20. Cineplex screens numerous X-rated films and films which depict explicit sexual and violent scenes. If they are holding Unborn to some standard of community tolerance they should ban these too. But then it’s not about morality at Cineplex, it’s about profit. Let’s keep our money on our pockets and avoid Cineplex.

  21. Liberal agenda. They do not want to open the undecided but forced on the public abortion issue.
    Just like homosexuality and transgenders we are forced to accept things that are immoral to a large portion of Canadians.

    We no longer have a “free” democratic society but a mandate forced on us. Our MPs, and provincial representation is a farce because they have to do what the top prime minister or premier’s in Province tell them to do. Sad.
    They want to be their own god!

    1. The answer to that is to support candidates in nomination races that support your views. Waiting to vote in the election can be too late because only members of a political party get to choose their candidate. Get involved in a political party that most closely lines up with your viewpoints and vote in the candidate that most closely lines up with your viewpoints.

    2. Satan’s agenda is alive and well in Canada. The love of Jesus will overcome.

  22. If we are going to keep telling women what to do with there bodies then they should tell us when we can masturbate.
    Also they are not allowed to menstruate because the eggis a potential life.
    Let’s start educating kids in school about sex, and I mean all aspects of sex not just heterosexual. Let’s make birth control free and accessible.
    If you really want to stop abortions then let’s stop them by preventing unwanted pregnancies.

    1. Masturbation does not murder a child. Abortion does.
      The egg is not a potential life. The fertilized egg on the other hand is a life. A fertilized egg dying due to menstruation is a akin to someone dying naturally of a heart attack. Someone who stabs a person in the heart is prosecuted under the law. Abortion is principally the same thing.
      We’ve been educating kids about sex. There isn’t any “let’s start…” It’s been happening. And doing this has yet to put a dent in the amount of needless emotional hardships and complexities that come with sex outside of marriage.

    2. Rick, what the hell are you talking about? A woman’s ovum (egg) and a man’s sperm is NOT “potential life” until they come together to form a human being, first on a cellular level.
      Kids ARE educated about sex! Just look at the curriculum leftists have shoved down their throats, including anal sex. However, there’s plenty of information kids also have access to on the internet (porn)! Besides, teenage pregnancies have declined – it’s 20-30 year-olds who are having the most abortions.
      As for birth control…it costs less than a monthly iPhone bill, fake nails or a night at the movies. Plus, there are plenty of places to get birth control for FREE if you can’t afford a regular prescription from your doctor.
      The reality is, people are IGNORANT! Planned Parenthood has been lying to women for years, referring to the unborn as a “product of pregnancy” or “a blob of cells”. The sex ed curriculum doesn’t delve into the realities of abortion, other than where to go to obtain one. Hello!! Abortion is a multi-billion dollar industry!
      You want to stop abortions? Then EDUCATE with movies like Unplanned….and FACTS! Why do you think there’s no corporation willing to let Canadians decide whether or not they wish to view this movie?

      1. Jay, Sandra and Others,

        When we swear at people we disagree with and try to overpower them with our arguments, it is like the angry, aggressive man at the fence in this movie. That is not productive. Please channel your anger into productive ways of fighting this fight. If you don’t stop and listen to others point of view before reacting, you will never empathize with them enough to actually convince them of anything. Really listen to their heart if you think that everyone is made in God’s image.

    3. You’ve got to be kidding!! Your comparing abortion to masterbating? Get your head out of your a**!

  23. How dare the powers that be decide for me and the countless other Canadians that are Pro Life or fence sitters that we cannot see this movie. I always believed we were a Democracy but sadly not so especially when choices are made for the Citizens.

  24. Shows you why the right to free speech is so precious. Canada is ruled by Neo fascists- only approved thoughts allowed. I wouldn’t want to live there. Bad enough now in the US but Canada has completely jumped the shark of censorship.

  25. The killing of babies goes against everything society has ever stood for. The procurers will NEVER enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Unplanned is a Life Experience that EVERY One should see.

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