(CNS) –  To say that actress Ashley Bratcher is enthusiastic about her latest film project is an understatement.

“I think it’s going to change history,” she said of the real-life story upon which the film is based. “I really do. I think it’s just that impactful.”

Bratcher portrays Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became an outspoken pro-life activist, in “Unplanned.”

Opening in theaters to higher than expected ratings March 29, the film is Johnson’s book of the same title and recounts how Johnson, once honored by Planned Parenthood as its “Employee of the Year,” came face-to-face with the reality of abortion and converted to the pro-life cause.

Bratcher knows the story’s transformative power because she has felt it herself.

Though she auditioned for the role without even knowing that Johnson was a real person and not the fictional creation of a screenwriter, Bratcher later went home and did some research online. She watched a video of Johnson sharing her story and, she said, it “shook me to my core.”

Bratcher had identified as pro-life, but admits that she had been “middle-of-the-road” on the issue, having limited understanding of fetal development, not knowing much about what an abortion procedure actually involved, and being unwilling to tell another woman what to do with, “so to speak, ‘her body.’ ”

But that video filled the gaps in her understanding, she said, and “really convicted me in my spirit to say, ‘Wow, people don’t know this. … America needs to know the truth.’ ”

If video footage of Johnson describing her experience in words can be that powerful, a dramatization would be even more powerful.

“With this movie, we allow people to see for the first time what they’ve never seen before, and I think that is going to be … really compelling,” Bratcher said during a March 8 telephone interview with The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.

The filmmakers’ effort to share Johnson’s eye-opening experience with theatergoers met with an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America for “some disturbing/bloody images.”

Johnson sees “a political agenda at play” in the rating decision, but also feels that the MPAA “stumbled backwards into the truth” that abortion is inherently violent.

A parent herself, Johnson gives her assurance that children “have seen much worse on cable TV than they will see in this film.”