CHICAGO (BP) -- Thousands of activists will attend pro-life prayer vigils outside Planned Parenthood clinics in 38 states Saturday, inspired by the movie "Unplanned," vigil organizers said.
The Nationwide Pro-Life Candlelight Vigil is planned in 141 U.S. cities as of Wednesday, according to organizers the Pro-Life Action League, Citizens for a Pro-Life Action League and Created Equal.
"Unplanned has become a call to action for the pro-life movement," Mark Harrington, executive director of Created Equal and event co-director, said in an April 9 press release. "Thousands have been inspired by this movie to get actively involved in the pro-life movement for the first time. Saturday's nationwide candlelight vigil will be the critical first step for many of these new pro-life activists -- including a new group of first-time leaders."
Abby Johnson, author of the book on which the movie is based, applauds the activism occurring just two weeks after the film's March 29 release.
"It's been wonderful to see the amount of activism that is happening," Johnson told Baptist Press today, "not because of the film, but because God is moving in people's heart after seeing the film.
"Abortion has been something that people unfortunately have been silent about for a long time, and our churches have been relatively silent about this issue," said Johnson, who had an epiphany regarding abortion while working as a Planned Parenthood clinic director in 2011.
"I'm just thankful that the film is serving as a catalyst for this type of activism," Johnson told BP. "And hopefully those who go to the vigil will then be even further convicted to go out to these clinics when they're open and to share love and hope to the women who are going in considering an abortion."
The national candlelight event repurposes the annual National Day of Prayer and Protest against Planned Parenthood, in its fourth year, to appeal to first-time activists the movie is generating, Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler told BP today.
"This year we decided to … do something a little different," Scheidler said.
A coalition of more than 75 local, state and national pro-life groups are helping coordinate the candlelight event. Groups may schedule additional vigils at protestpp.com.
"The pro-life community nationwide is responding to the pain and suffering of abortion by turning to prayer," Scheidler said. "Unplanned presents a heartbreaking story of what abortion does to its unborn victims, the women who make that choice, and those who are involved in providing abortions."
Planned Parenthood claims to put women's needs first, but the movie supports a different reality, said Monica Miller, executive director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and vigil co-director.
"While abortions continue to rise at Planned Parenthood, every year they're seeing fewer patients and performing fewer other services," Miller said, referencing Planned Parenthood annual reports. "More and more, Planned Parenthood is really all about abortion."
Churches and individual Christians should actively show women options to abortion, Johnson told BP.
"Women have abortions not because they are feeling empowered in their abortion decision," Johnson said. "They have abortions because they feel like they have no other choice, which is why the verbiage of being pro-choice is such a lie. Women have abortions because they feel like they're out of options."
Unplanned, still in theaters, brought in $12.9 million through April 8 on as many as 1,516 screens, according to Box Office Mojo.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.