Euthanasia Movie "Million Dollar Baby" Tops Abortion Drama At Oscars

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 28, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Euthanasia Movie "Million Dollar Baby" Tops Abortion Drama At Oscars

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 28, 2005

Hollywood, CA ( — Euthanasia topped abortion at the Oscars on Sunday as "Million Dollar Baby" took home the best picture honors and three other awards. The movie topped the drama "Vera Drake," which has been panned for promoting illegal abortions.

In addition to the top movie award, "Million Dollar Baby" earned honors for director Clint Eastwood, lead actress Hilary Swank and supporting actor Morgan Freeman.

Disabled activists and pro-life advocates have protested the movie in the months leading up to the awards ceremony because it promotes euthanasia and a very negative view of those with serious disabilities.

The movie features Eastwood, a boxing trainer who serves as a mentor for fighter Maggie Fitzgerald (played by Swank). The two develop a father-daughter relationship as Swank’s character rises to the top of the boxing world.

When an opponent leaves Fitzgerald paralyzed from the neck down after a devastating blow, she decides she would rather die than continue her life. She asks Eastwood’s character, Frankie Dunn, to help her.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Amenabar’s "The Sea Inside" was voted the best foreign film. It has drawn criticism for promoting the story of a euthanasia activist in Spain.

"This is a clear statement on the Hollywood industry’s opinion of people with disabilities," says Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group.

"They grudgingly made accessibility changes when Chris Reeve complained about accessibility at the Kodak Theater, where the Oscar event is held. They love us if we’re begging for a cure or begging to die. Once we start talking about our rights, we see their interest and sympathy disappear," Coleman explained.

ADAPT, a disability rights group, agrees and says the Eastwood flick sends America the message "better dead than disabled."

"Meanwhile, back in the real America, millions of people with disabilities and those who are aging are fighting to stay alive," the group said in a statement about the movie.

Coleman says that the Hollywood elite may be enchanted with the euthanasia film, but mainstream Americans are not.

She points to a Harris poll released on February 23, showing respondents had "The Aviator" and "Ray" in a close race for their top choices, with "Million Dollar Baby" a distant third.

"It’s clear the Hollywood industry loves nothing more than a story about a disabled person begging to die and having a nondisabled ‘friend’ do it," says Stephen Drake, research analyst for Not Dead Yet.

Eastwood, who directs and stars in the movie, says the characters’ choices aren’t meant to promoted assisted suicide. Instead, the movie is intended to stick closely to the book it by author F.X. Toole on which it’s based.

"How the character handles it is certainly different than how I might handle it if I were in that position in real life,” Eastwood told the Associated Press. "Every story is a ‘what if.”’

The euthanasia films topped one romanticizing a woman who performs illegal abortions.

Directed by Mike Leigh and having racked up awards at foreign film festivals around the world, "Vera Drake" failed to win any honors at last night’s 77th Academy Awards.

Leigh had been nominated for best director and actress Imelda Staunton had been picked for a chance to win the award that went to Swank.

Related web sites:
Not Dead Yet –