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Women to spread ‘accurate information’ at screening of anti-abortion film Unplanned

Actor Ashley Bratcher, left, is shown in a scene from the film Unplanned. The controversial anti-abortion movie will be screened at 14 theatres in Canada, including Dartmouth Crossing. - Michael Kubeisy
Actor Ashley Bratcher, left, is shown in a scene from the film Unplanned. The controversial anti-abortion movie will be screened at 14 theatres in Canada, including Dartmouth Crossing. - Michael Kubeisy

Laura Slade wants women to be able to make an informed decision about their pregnancy like she did 15 years ago.

So when the 35-year-old woman heard the film Unplanned would be screening at the Dartmouth Crossing Cineplex, the only showing in Atlantic Canada, she knew she had to do something.

“I’m concerned about getting accurate information into people’s hands, rather than try to stop Cineplex from showing the film. I think we’re past that point,” Slade said Friday.

Unplanned has been labelled by critics as a biased anti-abortion film.

The film, based on a true story, follows American Abby Johnson as she leaves her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director and becomes strongly against abortion.

Slade was contacted by Rebecca Faria, a Halifax feminist activist, about posting sticky notes around the Dartmouth theatre.

Faria had produced sticky notes for women who are or might be pregnant with resources, websites, phone numbers, addresses and information on choices.

“These notes, and I have several hundred, will go just about everywhere in Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing over the next week,” Slade said, adding the notes aren’t to push people to have abortions, but to let them know their options.

Slade said she’s not interested in protesting or keeping people from attending the movie.

“Trying to stop people from entering a theatre or something like that, people aren’t going to respond to that because that’s a violation of their rights and rights is what this is all about,” she said.

Slade said she didn’t have access to information when she was pregnant at the age of 20, but was fortunate enough to know a woman who was able to speak on her abortion experience.

“I had to make this choice and I think having, maybe not even seeing the film, but having that idea back then may have influenced me, unfortunately,” she said.

“I want to get the facts out there so pregnant people can make a truly informed choice.”

Unplanned is to play at 14 Cineplex theatres across Canada for a week, debuting on Friday.

Cineplex CEO says decision about free speech

Ellis Jacob, CEO and president of Cineplex, said he understands concerns people have about the film.

“The decision to move forward with screenings on this particular film was a complicated one and it was not made lightly or easy,” Jacob said in an online letter posted Monday.

Jacob said he is confident the company made “the right decision for us, for you and for our country.”

“Canada is a country that believes in and rallies behind freedom of expression, but that isn’t always an easy thing to do and it certainly doesn’t always make you popular,” he said.

Jacob said Canada doesn’t censor content, opinions and points of view and people can decide if they want to go and watch Unplanned.

“In Canada, we have that option and I think it is an important thing to remember,” he said.

Martha Paynter, Halifax-area nurse and women’s health advocate, said she’s concerned about people who have criticized Cineplex’s decision and have received threats of violence.

“I certainly in my work as a volunteer and as a clinician in abortion care, have witnessed my fair share of violence from anti-choice protesters,” Paynter said.

“That’s always a concern, that people like myself who are involved in the provision of abortion care, our patients and advocates would ever be subjected to violence for their decision to seek a medical procedure.”

Paynter hasn’t and won’t be watching Unplanned, but advised “a film that is described as a propaganda film would not be a good source of information.”

“If people are interested in how abortion works, I encourage them to seek information from actual clinics,” she said.

Women seeking information or looking to book an appointment for a surgical or medical abortion can confidentially call the Nova Scotia Women’s Choice Clinic at 1-833-352-0719.

RELATED: Controversial anti-abortion film draws ire from pro-choice proponents


NOVA SCOTIA WOMEN'S CHOICE CLINIC

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