The story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate, is powerfully portrayed in the upcoming film “Unplanned,” a story birthed by thousands of hours of fervent prayer.
Shawn Carney is the man behind many those prayers. He heads the 40 Days for Life campaign that began in Texas in the fall of 2004. The organization holds continuous, round-the-clock 40-day prayer campaigns every fall and during Lent. As intercessors, they peacefully pray outside abortion clinics, petitioning God to intervene and save the lives of the unborn children and their mothers.
In just 15 years, 40 Days for Life has become a global movement with hundreds of thousands of volunteer intercessors who pray and keep vigil outside Planned Parenthood clinics just like the one where Johnson once worked, which was eventually shut down.
When Johnson exited the abortion industry a decade ago, it was Carney and his wife who helped her find new employment and guided her through the process of leaving the cause she once passionately believed in.
Carney and Johnson remain great friends and through their faithful prayers and efforts they continue to see clinic employees have a change of heart about abortion.
In “Unplanned,” Carney is portrayed by actor Jarod Lotz. The movie is named after Johnson’s 2014 memoir of the same name.
The Christian Post spoke to Carney in a recent phone interview about the power of prayer, what it’s like to see the fruit of his intercession on the big screen, and what’s ahead for the pro-life movement. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the interview.
CP: Did you ever think Abby’s story, especially given your role in it, would be captured in a motion picture?
SC: No. The whole thing sounds made up, right? We went out there and prayed for and talked to Abby when she was a volunteer, my wife and I both did. When Abby became the director of the Planned Parenthood office we had many conversations with her and she was the Planned Parenthood employee of the year. And now we’re running around the country promoting the movie about her conversion story. It literally sounds made up and it’s a story that could only be written by the power of prayer.
I say that now and I said that 10 years ago when she walked into my office. There were some media outlets and some people, both pro-life people and pro-choice people, who said Abby was a phony and that “She’s got you fooled. She’s just a disgruntled employee.”
Abby had to deal with that a lot when she first left. There were people, when I was trying to help find her a job, who would not hire her and people who held a grudge. And it was eye-opening for me in that sense. I said the same thing now as I did back then, which was: “I know this woman. I’ve known her for eight years and the only way she would be drawn out of the abortion facility and industry is through an actual conversion.”
People leave for different reasons, and we have a lot of [abortion clinic] workers who have, but she had a change of heart. And I firmly believe that’s the day she walked into my office. And I firmly believe that now.
CP: When she walks into your office with that change of heart and she’s weeping profusely, how accurately is that depicted in the movie?
SC: Perfectly. I’d never seen her cry. In my dealings with Abby, she was either being nice or mean, the two extremes.
But I’d never seen her emotionally distraught. When I opened the door and I saw a broken person I knew something was going on. She needed to know we were there for her.
So when I walked in and said, “It looks like you’ve had a hard day at the office,” she kind of laughed and said, “Yeah, you could say that.”
And that was in Abby’s book and they put that in the movie. She was acting the way she should have. She witnessed an abortion and not just witnessed it but then reflected on it and realized: “I’ve been part of this and I need to get out of here.” It was much more than seeing something ugly and wanting to get away from it.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter