Georgia actress and ‘Unplanned' star thrilled to see ‘heartbeat' bill pass

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Actress Ashley Bratcher attends the Save the Storks 2nd Annual Stork Charity Ball at the Trump International Hotel on January 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Save the Storks)

ATLANTA — Atlanta actress Ashley Bratcher, who is starring in a biopic film "Unplanned" about anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, rejoiced that the "heartbeat" anti-abortion bill passed Friday.

"I am ecstatic that the heartbeat bill passed in Georgia," she said over the weekend. "I couldn't be more proud of our fearless leaders like Governor Brian Kemp who stood for life in the face of all the threats and backlash."

Her film "Unplanned" opened with $6.1 million in box office gross this past weekend, fifth best overall. CinemaScore, which polls audiences, said the film received an A-plus from viewers. Critics gave it mixed reviews on RottenTomatoes (54%) but nearly everyone who saw it gave it a thumbs up (94%).

The movie, which is rated R, has had trouble marketing in mainstream arenas. Many cable networks rejected the ads including Lifetime and Hallmark, as did some Christian radio stations due to the R rating. Fox News did run the ads.

Bratcher said she was “middle of the road” about abortion for a long time, figuring it was up to the woman to decide. But then she was booked for the film and while she was filming, her mom told her for the first time that she almost aborted Bratcher when she was just 19, then changed her mind.

"I think that women deserve better," said Bratcher, who wrote an essay in Deadline last week countering the narrative driven by the likes of actress Alyssa Milano, who support women's right to have abortions. "Abortion is not healthcare. Now, it's time to focus on providing real quality healthcare that supports women and their babies. I am honored to be part of building a culture of life in Georgia."


While some crew and actors have publicly maligned the bill, which will face legal challenges once Kemp signs it, TV and film productions have stayed largely on the sidelines in the debate.

Bratcher challenged Milano to see her film. “It changed my life,” she said. “It’s truly Abby’s testimony. It changed my mind. I don’t think the general public really understands what happens during an abortion.”(The film got an R rating because of its graphic abortion scenes which Bratcher doesn’t believe are all that graphic .)

“We put a face on the victim,” she said. “You see ultra-sound images, not women’s personal parts.”

Personally, “I believe this is God’s providence. He planned this to bring my story full circle,” she added.

Bratcher also believes that businesses are pragmatic and won’t leave Georgia over this. “You come to any state understanding there are people there with opposing viewpoints,” she said. “I still work in New York and I don’t agree with what’s happening there.”

She met with Gov. Kemp last month and he read her letter before she posted it. He then retweeted it. “The governor is fully behind me,” she said. “I know his intentions. I believe in his cause.”

Bratcher, who has a nine-year-old son with her husband, said they want to adopt. “They can’t accuse me of not caring about children after birth,” she said.