Samaritan Ministries member Meagan Weber is assistant to Abby Johnson, founder and CEO of And Then There Were None, a ministry helping people who leave the abortion industry. Meagan was an extra in the new movie Unplanned, which depicts Abby’s journey from Planned Parenthood clinic worker to believer in Christ and major figure in the pro-life movement. We asked for her thoughts about the movie and her participation in it.
To find tickets and showtimes for Unplanned, go here.
How did you end up as an extra in Unplanned?
The entire staff of And Then There Were None was invited to visit the set for a big media junket while the film was being made. Because of my travels with Abby and being invited to come back to the set to film additional scenes, I was on set for a total of eight days. Several of us were invited to participate in the film as extras, but not everyone made it into the final cut. Somehow both of the scenes I was in made it to the final cut. With one in particular, I was placed in the seat right next to the main character of the scene, so no matter how they cut the shots there really would have been no way for me to not make it to production.
Who did you play?
In the first scene I'm in, Abby is standing at the counter to take her first set of pills for her medication abortion. I am wearing a blue sweater and carrying a bright red purse. I stand up and walk behind her on my way back to the clinic from the waiting room. In the second scene I'm in, I play the part of a gal who just had an abortion. I am wearing a pink paper gown sitting in a chair in the recovery room, looking like death warmed over, groggy and disoriented, while the very young patient next to me experiences severe and life-threatening complications.
How long did it take to film?
They filmed for about six weeks in Stillwater, Oklahoma, under an LLC by a different name so that people with opposing views would not find out and protest the set.
What were your emotions during the filming?
I met Abby eight years ago and instantly loved her. We have grown very close over the years. Abby is the closest and best friend that I have ever had, so I love and care for her deeply and empathize with her pains and struggles. I have heard her share her story hundreds of times, but to see others live it out was far different.
The first wave of emotions that I experienced was when I walked onto the unfinished clinic set. There was a man listening to Christian music, bobbing his head while he painted. He was putting the finishing touches on the passthrough in the wall, where, in real life, the aborted baby is passed from the procedure room to the lab after the abortion has been completed. It was surreal to see a bunch of Christians praising God while “building an abortion clinic.”
The day that they filmed the ultrasound-guided abortion scene, I was standing next to Abby on the very first take. I watched her as she watched this memory brought to life. For the last nine, almost 10 years, she has lived with the memory of watching that little boy become dismembered in his mother’s womb and die. This project is allowing us all to see what she saw for the very first time, and I know very well what that feels like. A year after my mom's suicide, I picked up her personal belongings from the sheriff’s office. What they didn't realize was that they accidentally gave me a copy of the photos they took that day. A friend of mine sat down with me to look at them. I needed to go back and see what I saw that morning when I found her body and my friend was willing to look with me so that I didn't have to do it alone. We get to do that with Abby by watching this film and, while, it may be hard to watch for many, it truly is one of the most loving things we can do for Abby and to honor baby Paul, the little boy who died during that ultrasound-guided procedure that changed the course of Abby's life forever.
This reality brings very strong emotions over my soul, to bear one another’s burdens, and isn't that what Samaritans Ministries is all about? Abby is a very stoic woman and she was very emotional while watching that scene being filmed; how could anyone stand there with dry eyes?
I got to go back in time with my friend during the worst days of her life.Meagan Weber
As far as the emotions I felt while I was an extra goes, I dug deep to pull out real emotion. Cary Solomon, one of the writers and directors, came into the room and told us that (our characters) had all just had abortions. We were medicated, groggy, in pain, and likely already felt regret—that was what he was hoping to see in us through the camera. We filmed that scene for close to an hour, take after take until it was just right. While I sat there with my eyes closed, thinking about how my face and posture needed to appear, I asked myself, “What would make me feel like my outside needed to look?” Naturally I went back to the day I found my mom's body after her suicide. I walked myself down the hallway in my mind and walked into her bathroom to find her, over and over again.
After we were done filming, Cary approached me and said, “I don't know where you went to bring what you did to that scene, but it wrecked me. You stole that scene and I couldn't keep my eyes off of you.” I was also approached by a friend who was on-set and works for another pro-life organization. He had tears streaming down his face as he told me that he couldn't stop watching me in the monitor. I had brought to his eyes the pain a woman has to feel after an abortion and it made him want to fight that much harder to provide the resources she needs to keep her from ever walking into a clinic. It was a very healing experience and, when I left that set, I left a lot of pain behind me.
What was the premiere like? Where was it at?
The premiere for Unplanned was held in Hollywood at the historic Chinese Theatre on March 18. It was attended by 850 people and it was such a treasure to bring my husband, Kyle, along with me. We got to take our picture on the red carpet, and I was able to introduce him to many of the cast members, producers, and the directors of the film.
It was incredible to see the final cut of the film. I have seen Unplanned over 10 times at various stages of production and I was just blown away at the final cut. It was really weird to see myself on such a big screen at a Hollywood movie premiere. Even though I really look like a hot mess in that scene, it was still amazing. Getting to be a part of the Hollywood debut of Unplanned was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I will treasure forever.
What kind of impact from the film are you personally hoping for?
This film was so well made and has even been compared to The Passion of the Christ by many in terms of the impact it is going to make. It is raw, it is real, and I believe it will forever change our culture toward life and how we view abortion. We already know of many pro-choice to pro-life conversions as well as saved babies that have come from this film. Our ministry, And Then There Were None, has already taken a former worker through our healing program after she saw a clip of the film at a conference. She hadn't told anyone about her past, but after seeing the clip she googled Abby and found our ministry. We are anticipating more and more workers to contact us, so we are praying that, as the workers come to us in droves, we will have the means to support them all in their conversions! I truly believe that this film is the biggest and most effective resource to hit the pro-life movement since the sonogram machine, and my hope and anticipation is that it will save many lives and convert many hearts. I also think that it has the potential to cripple Planned Parenthood and expose their true colors in ways that many are still blinded to!