Approximately 70 people gathered on Wood Street across from the Yukon Cinema Centre to protest the private viewing of the controversial movie Unplanned in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukoners protest pro-life film Unplanned

‘It’s a Christian propaganda film that is disguised as a Hollywood blockbuster’

Roughly 70 people gathered in downtown Whitehorse to protest a controversial film that espouses anti-abortion sentiments.

Unplanned, which aired in Canada earlier this year, was privately screened at the Wood Street theatre on Aug. 21. It’s scheduled to be shown again on Saturday at 10 a.m.

“It’s a Christian propaganda film that is disguised as a Hollywood blockbuster, with the goal of spreading misinformation about what happens in people’s sexual health clinics,” said Sarah Gallagher, the organizer of the protest. “You can’t proselytize when it comes to health care.”

The movie follows the story Abby Johnson who, while working for Planned Parenthood, turns into an anti-abortion activist.

Last month, The Globe and Mail’s film critic, Barry Hertz, blasted it for its fictionalizations, saying that the abortion scene, for instance, is “shot like a horror film.”

“Unplanned is not only a crass right-wing manifesto. It’s also a potentially dangerous call to extremism,” he wrote, going on to say that it “will make you writhe in agony over how such an ugly, malicious and potentially dangerous piece of religious and political propaganda could have made its way into the world.”

It’s been endorsed by Mike Pence, the vice president of the U.S., an evangelical, pro-life Christian.

Linda Thompson, who helped bring the movie controversial movie Unplanned to Whitehorse, poses for a photo in the Yukon Cinema Centre minutes before the first showing of the film on Aug. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Linda Thompson helped bring the movie to Whitehorse.

She said it’s not propaganda because it’s a true story.

“It’s a lovely story and I feel that it deserves to be seen in a public place,” she said.

“I value life. I’m not against these people and their views. I’m not trying to shut them down. I’m just trying to create a way to open a discussion.”

When pressed on why some people may choose to get abortions, Thompson said, “Personally, I don’t agree with it, but I can understand why people do it. This movie is a compassionate movie to all sides of the story.”

Sixty-seven tickets were sold for the mid-afternoon screening on Aug. 21.

Vanessa Klassen bought a movie ticket.

“It’s about time we had some open conversation on abortion or no abortion,” she said. “I think, for the most part, the quiet side has not been heard. Life is a value, a great, great value. There’s potential and miracles inside each and every baby.”

The theatre’s manager declined to comment. Landmark Cinemas, which owns the theatre, didn’t return multiple requests for comment.

Thompson and Klassen received their wishes: screening the movie certainly opened up a discussion.

Lauren Porter attended the protest, which was hosted across the street in the front yard of Molotov and Bricks Tattoo.

Approximately 70 people gathered on Wood Street across from the Yukon Cinema Centre to protest the private viewing of the controversial movie Unplanned in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

She had her seven-month-old son in the crook of her arm when she said, “This is shameful that this is in our community. We should not be taking steps backwards. As a woman and a mother, I fundamentally believe that this is a choice, that we have the right to make our own choices. Nobody has any business telling us what we should or shouldn’t do.”

It was Stephanie Schorr’s first time attending a protest. She said she was “shocked” such a movie was brought to Whitehorse, which she considers a liberal city.

“I had an abortion in my 20s and I’ve had a son in my 30s and both were the right choice at the time. I think it’s important enough that I came down here, just because I’ve had to make both choices and I think everyone should be able to do it. I think it’s important to make a presence.”

Dan Bushnell, co-owner of Molotov and Bricks, said the movie is propaganda.

“How many times do we have to have a debate about something that’s just not a debate? We know that making abortion illegal does not prevent abortion. What it does is make abortion not safe and it kills women,” he said.

The entire point of gathering, he said, is to support a person’s right to choose.

“We’re over here listening to music, eating, laughing and talking. I mean, listen to everybody.

“Listen, you answer anger and hate (with) love and joy.”

All money raised during the protest barbecue will be donated to the Yukon Sexual Health Clinic.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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