Ella Frech is an 11-year-old who uses a wheelchair. She also is a professional female wheelchair skater (WCMX), currently ranked number two in the world. Like many pro-life and disability rights advocates, Frech is upset about a new summer romance flick, “Me Before You,” that she said promotes assisted suicide for people like her who have disabilities.
Frech wrote a strong column for Aleteia this week, rebuking Hollywood for promoting a film that romanticizes a disabled man’s suicide.
“This could have been a great movie. It could have been the love story of two people and one of them just happens to use a chair,” the 11-year-old wrote. “It happens all the time. The people in love don’t think about the chair. It’s the other people who think it’s a big deal.”
“Me Before You” follows the story of a rich young man who becomes a quadriplegic and gives up on life. Despite his caregiver-turned-girlfriend’s attempts to show that his life has meaning, he chooses to commit suicide anyway. At first his young caregiver tries to persuade him to live, but eventually she caves into his decision to commit suicide.
My mom says this isn’t the first movie where a handicapped person had to die for being paralyzed. There was one called Million Dollar Baby where a woman is a quad and bravely chooses death instead of an imperfect life.
So I’m asking you again, what’s wrong with my life? Why do you think I should want to die?
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You sit there with your able bodies, and look at people in chairs and think you feel pity for our sad little lives, but the truth is you’re afraid. You don’t want to imagine that you might be one of us one day. You think you can be perfect, and think you’d rather die than have parts that don’t work right.
I think that’s sad. …
The thing about the chair is it’s just a thing. It’s my legs. It’s how I get around. That’s it.
While you’re sitting in your offices crying about the bravery of this guy who kills himself and leaves everyone else to mourn him, which seems pretty selfish to me, I’m going to be out living the amazing life you didn’t even bother to know was possible. I have friends, and go on sleep-overs, and live a regular life. A life that doesn’t make me want to die. It makes me happy that it’s mine.
Frech isn’t the only one who is upset. A number of disability rights and pro-life groups are encouraging people to boycott the film, including the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the coalition, said the movie perpetuates the ideology that death is better than living with a disability. He said the film sells the young man’s suicide as an act of love.
“This is not a campaign to obstruct free speech; this is a campaign to oppose the line this movie promotes,” Schadenberg wrote in a column at LifeNews. “Not only is death portrayed as better than living with a disability, but the ultimate act of love, for a person who lives with a disability, is his or her own death.”