Cinémas Guzzo is set to screen the Anti-Abortion film Unplanned on July 12th despite the fact that some people don’t want the film shown in Quebec. Cinémas Guzzo’s CEO and television personality Vincenzo Guzzo said that he has received mostly positive support to screen the film despite some opposition and even one death threat. “I’ve never accepted to be bullied in any form,” the Montreal media mogul said noting that he hasn’t backed down from a fight since he was 12 years old.
Unplanned is based on the true story of Abby Johnson who left her job as the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas in 2009. After witnessing an abortion on ultrasound she left the clinic and promptly walked across the street to join the Coalition for Life. Her memoir, Unplanned, was made into the 2019 movie of the same name. Johnson is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life side a fact which has angered some in the pro-choice movement.
In spite of Johnson’s dramatic departure and sudden change of heart, Guzzo doesn’t think the film is likely to sway anyone’s opinion one way or the other. “I watched the movie to make sure that it wasn’t propaganda,” he said. “I have exactly the same opinion after watching it as I did before.” Guzzo believes that most people are intelligent and sufficiently well informed to draw their own conclusions. The dapper entrepreneur best known for his role on CBC’s show Dragons’ Den says that Unplanned is ultimately a human interest story about one woman’s personal journey and not a documentary. “It’s a Hollywood movie,” he says and it should be treated as such. Written and directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, the film stars Ashley Bratcher, Brooks Ryan, and Robia Scott.
Controversy film Unplanned
The controversy over whether to show the film here and in the rest of Canada has reignited concerns about free speech set against the backdrop of the push for more restrictive abortion laws in several U.S. states. Georgia recently passed a “fetal heartbeat” law effectively banning most abortions after six weeks when an unborn beating heart can be detected. Similar laws in Ohio and Iowa have been temporarily halted by court orders on purported constitutional grounds. These hasty injunctions are being just as swiftly challenged. While pro-choice activists maintain that Roe v. Wade is settled law in the U.S.A., American pro-life activists clearly beg to differ.
In Canada, a different kind of constitutional challenge is underway, one involving issues of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the ire of many Canadians two years ago when his government attached a “values test” to Canada’s Summer Jobs program. The new rules stipulated that recipients would have to sign an attestation stating their support for access to abortion in order to qualify for grants to hire students for summer jobs. Last year, in response to the outcry that the attestation was a political litmus test designed to “compel speech”, the eligibility criteria were modified and changes made as to how applications would be assessed. However, since the changes were made two Christian Bible summer camps have filed legal challenges saying they were denied funding without explanation. There are currently eight other lawsuits from charities and businesses challenging the controversial Canada Summer Jobs attestation.
While current legal debacles may create an impression of polarization many polls suggest that there is actually a large middle-ground of opinion. A recent Marist poll in the U.S.A. showed that a majority of pro-choice Americans actually support some restrictions on abortion based on gestational limits and other factors. Canadian polls have shown broad-based support for informed-consent and other measures that favor a reduction of abortion rates, as well as strong opposition to sex-selective abortion (usually of female fetuses).
So, what should the takeaway be from this film? Guzzo, a father of five, says if nothing else it highlights the painful dilemma of women who experience an unplanned pregnancy. He thinks we should have empathy for women in this predicament and ask ourselves, “How do we make a difficult situation less difficult?” There are always consequences though, whether it results in abortion or adoption, but also when the woman decides to keep her baby. “We have to consider the impacts,” Guzzo says. “It’s a mental health issue.”