Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Left-right, Kirsty Wells, Linda Thompson, Keith Dye and Thor Stewart.

Controversial film stirs vigorous debate

Both sides of the abortion debate occupied Wood Street on Wednesday, thanks to the screening of the hotly contested pro-life film Unplanned at the Yukon Cinema Centre.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 22, 2019

Both sides of the abortion debate occupied Wood Street on Wednesday, thanks to the screening of the hotly contested pro-life film Unplanned at the Yukon Cinema Centre.

“It's their right to protest, and we have the right to see a movie,” said Linda Thompson, the film screening’s organizer.

She organized two showings of the film for Wednesday and this Saturday in partnership with Landmark Cinemas.

In response to the viewing, a peaceful protest was organized Wednesday on the front lawn of Molotov and Bricks Tattoo and Kutters.

The film, coveted by faith-based and anti-abortion groups and panned by pro-choice groups, has been the focus of protests across the country since its Canadian debut last month.

The movie, based on the memoir of Abby Johnson, tells of a Planned Parenthood clinic director who becomes an anti-abortion activist.

Johnson claims the organization pressured employees into pushing for more abortions to enrich profit margins.

Eventually, Johnson says viewing an abortion on ultrasound pushed her to leave the company and join the other side of the argument. 

The film contains graphic scenes of the abortion process. The women in Unplanned suffer bloody, painful procedures with complications that are swept under the rug by insensitive doctors.

The portrayal has been publicly disputed by members of the medical community as fear-mongering propaganda, fuelling the fire of debate.

Unplanned was produced by Christian production company Pure Flix and released in the United States last March.

The movie was originally rejected by film distribution giants Landmark and Cineplex, effectively banning it in Canada. In July, Cineplex reversed its decision with an open letter from CEO Ellis Jacob.

“In this instance, many of us will have to set aside our own personal beliefs and remember that living in a country that censors content, opinions and points of view because they are different from our own is not a country that any of us would want to live in,” Jacob wrote. “It is up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to see it.” 

The film was rated 14-A in most parts of Canada and screened at almost 60 theatre houses. Thompson said when she reached out to Landmark’s Yukon Cinema, it was “happy to find the time” for Unplanned. 

Thompson added she was pleased the event came together.

“I believe it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “It’s a true story, and I think it deserves to be shown in a public place.”

Thompson hoped that the screening would welcome all points of view to open discussion.

“There are people outside protesting the fact that we’re seeing a movie. It shows that our freedoms are being slowly taken away from us, and the thought of pro-life is being squashed,” Thompson said. 

“When people talk about pro-choice, there has to be a second choice. There has to be more choices to choose from.”

Thompson is the mother of two teenage sons, one of whom she said will come with her to Saturday’s screening.

Keith Dye attended the film’s screening Wednesday. He told the Star he annually spends the winter doing missionary work with the Sonora Evangelical Ministry in Mexico, where abortions are expensive and severely restricted in most areas.

Dye said he is anti-abortion, and curious to see if the film would confirm his beliefs.

“I believe full-term abortion is murder,” Dye said. “I don’t believe in abortion, period, but I wouldn’t stand here and protest it.

“The (protestors) across the street believe it should be totally legal and taxpayers should pay for it, and I don’t think that’s correct.”

As film attendees filed into cinema seats for the 3:30 p.m. show, about 70 people gathered in the lawn of Molotov and Brick Tattoo and Kutters across the street for a protest and barbecue.

The event was advertised on social media under the hashtags #eatburgers and #fightbigots and called for “sharing productive dialogue, and making positive noise against propaganda films based on lies and religious agendas.”

“Our goal today is just to be louder than the attention that’s going on over there,” said Kirsty Wells, Molotov and Brick’s co-owner.

“We’re going to do that by being fun, being peaceful and bringing together a community.

“That means having good conversation, good eats, and just engaging people with the topic of abortion and sexual health in the Yukon.” 

The protesters ate burgers and wrote pro-choice messages on banners at the event’s sign-making station.

“I came to support my sisters out there,” said attendee Thor Stewart.

“I think it’s crazy that this needs to happen, but these are the issues of our times, so people need to speak about these things.”

Lenore Morris, the Yukon’s Green Party candidate in the upcoming federal election, told the Star she attended the rally to stand up for a female’s right to abortion, a right that was introduced in Canada in her lifetime.

“We’ve been in this limbo,” Morris said of abortion laws in Canada.

“No new legislation has been enacted (in the past 31 years), and things have been OK, but there’s huge potential for backsliding.”

Many event attendees and organizers don’t object to anybody seeing the film, Morris added.

“That’s their choice,” she said. “All we’re trying to do today is say there’s a lot of people who feel differently; who believe in a woman’s right to choose.”

Despite divided opinions, those on both sides of the street seemed to agree with the other’s right to gather.

“It’s just a movie, and (the protestors) can choose not to see it,” Thompson said.

“But if they chose to come, I would buy them a ticket.”

Comments (42)

Up 6 Down 3

Nora on Aug 28, 2019 at 6:20 pm

It’s sad when people need to protest watching a movie. If anything this movie was made to promote goodness and life rather then evil and death. Abortion is the murdering of an innocent baby that has a heartbeat and is a real person.
Use protection if you don’t want to have a baby. Don’t let a baby pay the price for your lack of sexual planning. Sex makes babies. Careful sex and precautions don’t make babies.

Up 12 Down 5

Jackson on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:18 pm

@Pro Life
You're mistaken, CPC can totally ignore it. When 77% of Canadians are in favour of abortion being permitted, taking up the debate would be political suicide for the federal party. Conservative party has similar challenges on core platform issues that have proven to be very popular nationally such as same-sex marriage, cannabis and even environmental policy.
Andrew Scheer ran on one platform to appease the party faithful, secure his party's nomination and largely dumped that platform in favour of one that is more palatable in the general election. That's just good political strategy - for Andrew Scheer's entire career he has been a savvy and intelligent politician, a natural since first being elected at only 25 years old. Andrew Scheer knows full well that he can either stand on his values OR have a real shot at power.

PPC, Maxime can push against the current all they want - there's no scenario where they come out on top running against issues our civil society has endured many years of vigorous debate and ultimately settled. So go ahead, let the Pro-life folks spend their time and energy on outdated, outmoded and outvoted topics.

Up 7 Down 3

Wilf on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Werner Rhein the statement about the world burning up is not true. The world is revolting like it always has and will. But a man telling women what she can and cannot do is not right, simple as that.

Up 15 Down 4

David Anderson on Aug 27, 2019 at 10:28 am

Werner Rhein, you and Thanos would get along well. Overpopulation should never be an excuse for murder.

Up 18 Down 5

Joe the Millennial on Aug 26, 2019 at 12:59 pm

There are now EIGHT BILLION humans on the planet.
TICK TOCK - TICK TOCK - TICK TOCK - ...................

Up 20 Down 12

Brian on Aug 26, 2019 at 8:03 am

No one is speaking up for the children who went through Foster care or Adoption and always had that burning feeling of not knowing who their mother is or father.
Unfortunately statistics prove that allowing abortions also reflects a lower crime rate, less people on Social Assistance, less alcohol/drug abuse related crimes,
Not just being a person who doesn’t know their genealogy or family health. Or the big question, why were they given up and why they went through life not knowing why they were unwanted.

Let a woman make the decision and support her either way.

Up 5 Down 20

Pro Life on Aug 25, 2019 at 10:09 pm

If you truly want to see abortion laws looked at or changed, then the only option you have is to vote for the PPC which is Joe Zelezny locally. The only other option WAS Scheer but he and Mr. Smith have now said no chance of it. They support the pro-abortion side all the way. The Conservatives have become spineless cowards on this issue and need to be given a message that this is not something they can ignore! When they see how well the PPC does in this election hopefully they will reconsider their unethical stance on this issue. So again, a vote for Smith or the Conservatives is a vote to keep all forms of abortion as they currently are. If not, then let it be known Mr. Smith!

Up 18 Down 8

Catie on Aug 25, 2019 at 6:41 pm

You were able to make a decision based on choice, and you're happy that you did. I made the same choice as you when I found myself with an unplanned pregnancy. However, I want women to be able to make the choice, based on what is right for them. There is too much "anti-choice" rhetoric going on these days. People are free to see the movie/not see the movie, but it's part of a disturbing lobby to remove the right to choice.

Up 13 Down 18

Werner Rhein on Aug 25, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Do you people really have nothing else to argue about.
Our planet is burning up, what are you doing or even planing do to about that?

One big reason for the climate disaster is overpopulation. We have to reduce the world's population, and one way to that is to give all women to have the right to decide about their bodies, without the fear of artificial dumb religious oppression.

Up 31 Down 14

Catie on Aug 24, 2019 at 6:37 pm

When I found out that I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I had only been married for 2.5 months. We were making $1500/month (rent was $1000), I wasn't finished school (and wouldn't be for a number of years - I am still not done), and we didn't plan on having kids for 3-4 years. Did we abort?? NO!!! I sucked it up and understood that getting pregnant had been our own dang fault.
We used our credit cards to move so that we could get better jobs to support ourselves, I went back to school again when my son was 2 months old - I found an online program so that I could be at home with him. I worked on my school work when he napped, rather than sleeping. Would aborting have been "easier"? In the short run, probably. But I understand and value human life. We changed our plans and made sacrifices in order to provide for our child because we understand that a baby in the womb, is a baby. And now we can't imagine our lives without him. Just because something seems "inconvenient" or "impossible" at the time, does not mean that your life is ruined. You just have to be flexible and more selfless - 2 qualities that I think a lot of people could work on.

Up 3 Down 2

At home in the Yukon on Aug 24, 2019 at 5:24 pm

In response to 'Hippocratic oath?' I read your link. I really don't get it. It discusses the fact that doctors don't take the original oath. It does confirm, however, that Hippocrates "is widely considered to be its author". Whether modern doctors swear the original oath or not, this was the opinion of the father of modern medicine, a man whose allegiance was to a long list of gods and goddesses. He certainly wasn't "Christian".

Up 29 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Aug 24, 2019 at 1:17 pm

The most obvious problem here as I see it is everybody is minding everybody else's business - Some in the name of God.

Up 40 Down 0

Steven on Aug 24, 2019 at 10:35 am

Just because someone wants to see this movie doesn't necessarily mean they are particularly "for" or "against" abortion. I certainly hope the crowd across the street doesn't judge me and my entire moral value system by the fact that I want to watch it and see what it's all about. My viewpoints on a subject do not necessarily stop me from wishing to learn more about that subject.

Up 3 Down 6

Hippocratic oath? on Aug 23, 2019 at 6:31 pm

@At home in the Yukon - between Exodus quote, and Hippocratic Oath reference, you might want to watch/read different news sources. From Harvard, "The myth of the Hippocratic Oath" https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-myth-of-the-hippocratic-oath-201511258447

Up 14 Down 7

Exodus?? Really? I don't think so on Aug 23, 2019 at 6:22 pm

Exodus also gives other instructions we don't follow in this day and age, such as “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten" and "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death" and all sorts of instructions on how to deal with slaves. Even the verse you quote is a stretch to think that it has anything to do with a woman's decision to have/not have an abortion

Up 16 Down 11

At home in the Yukon on Aug 23, 2019 at 4:10 pm

In response to Patricia above, "I am here to say this. No where and I mean NO WHERE in the bible does it say abortion is wrong."
Please check out Exodus 21:22-25,
"If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury ... But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

The Bible is crystal clear.
BTW, Hippocrates (the founder of modern medicine) also was, as his oath states, "Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion." He proves that this topic is not merely a "Christian" issue but an issue of basic morality.

Up 25 Down 3

NATHAN DOIRON on Aug 23, 2019 at 3:41 pm

A fetus is not a female body part.

Up 12 Down 8

Yukoner on Aug 23, 2019 at 2:11 pm

@Thor maybe you should have done some planning and not gotten yourself into that situation, or now that you are in the situation take some accountability...

Calling it unplanned should maybe be called unhopeful.. people should know the cause and affect of sex in this day and age.
I do believe abortion should be legal and that are situations beyond a persons control... but calling it unplanned is a stretch sometimes.

Up 41 Down 13

Resident on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Women aren't getting third term abortions because they got tired of being pregnant. Those babies are wanted. Many already have names. The parents are facing awful medical decisions and to force a woman to deliver a dead or soon-to-be-dead child is akin to torture.

I hope all the pro-life people are the same ones demanding more social support systems for children and their parents. If a child deserves the full protection and support of the state in the womb, then it deserves it outside the womb. Otherwise, you're nothing but a hypocrite. If all you care about is the child being born, you're not pro-life, you're pro-birth.

Up 12 Down 25

Henry Wensleydale on Aug 23, 2019 at 12:48 pm

And we still have no comment from "Sanctimonious Smith" about his current leader's long and well documented anti-abortion voting record!

Up 29 Down 20

Thor on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:57 am

Pay for my movie ticket, but will you pay for the unplanned child I can't afford or support?

Up 2 Down 5

Wes on Aug 23, 2019 at 11:12 am

Tabitha. That's not ironic.

Up 21 Down 29

Mary on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:57 am

The problem with Unplanned is that it's made up propaganda masking itself as True Story.

Up 15 Down 20

Politico on Aug 23, 2019 at 7:45 am

“I believe full-term abortion is murder,” Dye said. “I don’t believe in abortion, period, but I wouldn’t stand here and protest it." As usual the press amplifies a blatant lie by the anti abortionist. Full term abortions are extremely rare and only done as medical necessities. The anti abortionists are against even birth control and believe the rape victims should enjoy their "Gift from God". Too bad the reporter never asked the anti group what they think of Savita Halappanavar's death!!

Up 42 Down 13

Dave on Aug 23, 2019 at 4:14 am

I don’t have an interest in this one way or the other, but I do note how the media always references pro-life negatively by using the term anti-abortion. Why don’t they also describe pro-choice with a negative term such as anti-life?

Up 27 Down 3

Max Mack on Aug 22, 2019 at 11:34 pm

You said: "There is no 'debate' over abortion. The courts decided decades ago a woman has the right to choose."

Since when are the courts the final arbiter of what is debatable or suitable for discussion? Give your head a shake, man. Courts make legal rulings (which has nothing to do with justice, by the way).

Up 30 Down 15

Robin on Aug 22, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I am Prolife ... I love all woman ... you are my Sisters ❤️
We gain nothing by Hating and being hurtful... we may not see eye to eye but I will still stand by you and wipe your tears and listen to your hurt...
The movie was a good one and a honest one.. well worth the watch...come on Saturday and see for yourself.. you can leave at any point... no judgement.

Up 32 Down 22

JC on Aug 22, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Wow! Celebrating the destruction of potential human life by eating burgers and having mocking fun. Nuff said.

Up 22 Down 14

JC on Aug 22, 2019 at 8:24 pm

I saw the signs, "My body, my choice". I respect the views of those who believe that. I think everyone should have the right to their view even if I don't agree with it. Now, here is my view, based on my research over the last 40 years - "Heaven or Hell, your choice". I hope the Star respects my view.

Up 30 Down 10

Jeff Gilbert on Aug 22, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Left wing wackos seem to believe that getting in your face is going to change your mind. Doesn't work that way.

Up 27 Down 17

joseph zelezny on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Check out preborn.ca for information about a private members bill to end late term abortion after 24 weeks. I support this bill and will vote in favour if elected - the only candidate in the Yukon to go on record thus far - I have not yet heard a single compelling reason where someone would advocate for an abortion AFTER 24 weeks that wasn't covered in the exceptions list. It is a common sense middle ground approach for all Canadians.

Many Canadians have no idea that late-term abortions on preborn babies in the 7th to 9th month are legal in Canada. Beyond 24 weeks, the preborn baby is viable outside the mother. When the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the old abortion law in 1988, all the justices agreed the state has a compelling interest in defending the unborn, especially after the second trimester. After 30 years with no law in Canada, a debate on abortion in Parliament is long overdue.

Even if the Protection of Preborn Children Act becomes law, it would still be one of the most permissive abortion laws in any Western country. Abortion would still be legal up until 24 weeks, and exceptions are there for cases where there has been sexual abuse of a minor, rape or where the woman’s health or life is in serious jeopardy.

What we want to see debated in Parliament is this: is there some common ground that we, as Canadians, can agree upon? Can legislators agree with the Supreme Court of Canada that the state should defend the unborn beyond the second trimester? These are fundamental questions, and we can not be afraid to debate this important issue head-on.

AUG21: Blaine Calkins & Earl Dreeshen, Red Deer CPC candidates are the first Conservative Party of Canada MPs coming forward to stand in support of this non-partisan bill. Jonas has not replied.

Up 24 Down 21

Patricia worth on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:41 pm

I am here to say this.
No where and I mean NO WHERE in the bible does it say abortion is wrong.
I am a christian, and I refute the claim that god condemns women for this.
You take away a woman's right to choose you are going against the one thing god gave us... FREE WILL.
Get your faith out of other women’s bodies.
Stop trying to control others when god created us with THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE.
Your judgements are keeping gods children from him... and I know for a fact that is in the bible.

Up 21 Down 9

Gordon of Riverdale on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Sounds like this movie is the Holy Roller version of REEFER MADNESS

Up 22 Down 19

Ginger Johnson on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Both right wing Party Leaders with local candidates in the upcoming Federal Election have or will support restricting abortion.
Something every Yukon woman needs to think about.

Up 24 Down 13

A thought on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Judging by some of these comments and the current state of affairs in some states in the US, there is plenty to remain vigilant about in regard to protecting women's basic human rights. Until you find yourself in a position where you need to make a decision that like this has already significantly impacted your life and will indeed impact it further, your opinion remains just that, an opinion.
Go ahead and have opinions on reproductive rights of people in this world, but leave those rights alone. For those that think this is dramatic and that perhaps we should all just relax, would you relax if you were told that you may lose the right to healthcare? Our fear is, some think they know better and would have the nerve to express as much (obviously) and given the power would take our autonomy away. This isn't something to relax about. This isn't something to take lightly. This is a discussion about basic human rights and as long as they are threatened, our voices will remain and until we don't feel threatened, this will continue to be the case.

Up 55 Down 79

Tabitha on Aug 22, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Ironic that all those people protesting anti-abortion are able to stand there today and protest, (which is their right), only because their parents chose not to abort them.

Up 62 Down 111

john on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Pretty sure you don't have the right to kill another person, whether in you body or not. Seems pretty straight forward.

Up 84 Down 40

BnR on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:39 pm

“ ‘There are people outside protesting the fact that we’re seeing a movie. It shows that our freedoms are being slowly taken away from us, and the thought of pro-life is being squashed,’ Thompson said”
It’s almost like she doesn’t know what she’s saying......
All I know is the religious right doesn’t want you to touch their guns, but they have no problem whatsoever with getting their paws all over woman’s bodies.

Up 107 Down 44

Mick on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:16 pm

There is no 'debate' over abortion. The courts decided decades ago a woman has the right to choose.

The Neanderthals can crawl back to their caves and watch this 'film'.

Up 101 Down 8

David Anderson on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:05 pm

If you want to see the movie, see it.
If you don't want to see the movie, don't see it.
Let's not over complicate things...

Up 36 Down 24

My 2 cents on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Yet another missed opportunity to allow a non-event put on by a political movement with little political capital on life support (pardon the pun) to pass under the public radar brought to all of our attention because of the left's incessant need the "confront" things they disagree with.

Up 45 Down 21

At home in the Yukon on Aug 22, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Watch the movie. I dare yea!

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.