Actress Ashley Bratcher shares her inspiring story during the Rose Day rally in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Weather and traffic concerns did not deter many pro-life Oklahomans from attending Rose Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 8. What made this year’s event even more historic was it was the first to be held since the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
For more than 30 years in early February, Oklahoma Baptists have joined other Oklahoma pro-life supporters in bringing red roses and a message for their lawmakers, urging them to approve policies that work to end abortion and protect unborn life. This year, that emphasis continued, but with the knowledge that Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The Rose Day rally met in the House Chamber, and the program featured several prominent individuals. Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and State Senator Greg Treat introduced state representatives and senators. Recently-elected Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell each spoke, while Governor Kevin Stitt offered a message through video.
The keynote speaker at the Rose Day rally was Ashley Bratcher. Known for her leading role in the movie “Unplanned,” Bratcher portrayed Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic director who is now a pro-life advocate. Johnson also was a Rose Day speaker in previous years.
“It is great to be back in the great state of Oklahoma, where we actually filmed ‘Unplanned,’” Bratcher said in her opening. “I certainly don’t feel qualified to be here, but rather called (by God) to share my story with you.”
Bratcher told how challenging it was for her to get her start as an actress in New York, constantly turned down for roles. She ended up moving back to her hometown in North Carolina and worked briefly as a middle school teacher. She also had her own unexpected pregnancy.
“It was one of the most humbling and challenging experiences of my life,” Bratcher shared. “But what really clicked for me when I gave birth to my son was when I looked at him, and for the very first time, I understood how much our Heavenly Father loves us… I had this tiny person that I immediately loved so much, and I wanted to be the best mother that I possibly could be.”
Bratcher mentioned that, in 2012, she committed her career to God. She told how she and her husband, the father of her child, now have been together for 20 years.
Acting opportunities continued for Bratcher in smaller roles of TV shows and movies. In 2018 she had “the most random opportunity to audition for ‘Unplanned.’” Through social media, Bratcher received a message from Johnson who said she had been praying for years for Bratcher to play her in this movie.
Surprised by Johnson’s remarks, Bratcher did audition for the movie and discovered more about the woman she was to portray.
“I heard her testimony and how she described what happened to a 13-week-old baby during an ultrasound-guided abortion,” Bratcher said. “I was completely devastated, and I remembered falling to my knees crying.”
Johnson’ story helped Bratcher realize she was deceived by the abortion industry, thinking how she may never have an abortion but “it was someone else’s decision to decide.”
“That is not taking the stand to protect life,” she said.
After Bratcher’s audition, a producer told her the risks she was taking because being in “Unplanned” meant she may never work in movies again. She was confident in her response.
“I don’t serve producers or Hollywood,” she said. “I serve the Lord, and I know my identity is in Christ.”
After getting the role, Bratcher said she was quickly placed on a plane and flew to Stillwater for filming. Things happened so quickly for Bratcher that only a few people knew where she was. Even her mother didn’t know until she called Bratcher.
Bratcher said she was hesitant at first to tell her mother about the movie because she remembered her mom had an abortion early in life. Bratcher did not know how her mom would respond.
During the conversation, Bratcher said her mother told her she almost had another abortion but instead decided to have Bratcher. “That moment, I was so overwhelmed that God had a plan for my life,” Bratcher said. “That was so clear in that moment that He, from the moment of conception, knew what He had called me to do.”
Multiple Oklahoma Baptists were featured on the program, including Pastor Vern Charette of Coweta, First who concluded the Rose Day program with a benediction prayer.
Other Oklahoma Baptist leaders were in attendance, including Oklahoma Baptists’ Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Fisher, along with Anthony Jordan, retired executive director-treasurer.
“Rose Day was once again a powerful statement of Oklahomans’ commitment to the sanctity of all human life,” Jordan said. “Thanks to our Governor, Lt. Gov, (House) Speaker, Senate President Pro Tem(pore) and a host of reps and senators who have made Oklahoma the top pro-life state! Thanks to all who attended.”
In coming weeks, video of the 2023 Rose Day event will be available online at roseday.life.