Dear Dr. Baehr,
You are the kind of doctor that I would like to have if I was ever in an emergency situation; the kind that values life and would not give up on me. I find it oddly comforting that you, as a doctor value life, however I must disagree with your opinion of the movie “Million Dollar Baby.”
I absolutely, cannot believe that you are comparing the movie to the Neo-Nazi film “I Accuse,” and find myself quite appalled by the comparison. What the Nazi’s did is completely different from what Frankie did in “Million Dollar Baby.” First off, the difference between the consented assisted suicide of Maggie Fitzgerald and the slaughtering of millions of handicapped, Jewish and Evangelical Christian citizens is obviously, the consent.
Maggie’s will was ultimately to die. Whether it be over boxing or her life, Clint Eastwood’s character, Frankie could not take Maggie’s will away from her not matter how hard he tried, and Maggie proved that to him time and time again. No matter what he said she refused to give up boxing and trained whenever she possibly could. She refused to listen to his crap about her being too old to be trained and managed to get him to not only train her but help her make it to a championship match. And once again she refused to listen to his will for her to live and attempted to kill herself twice by trying to bite her tongue to the point that she would bleed to death. At this point, I think it became quite clear to Frankie that no matter what he said Maggie was going to find a way to die, and soon. Frankie could not deny Maggie anything. She wasn’t just some ordinary person to him, she was one of the few things he had, and he was one of the few things she had. Neither of them had close relationships with their families and so they found a family with each other. As someone who loved her as much as he did I think that Frankie decided that having a quick, peaceful, and somewhat humane death with the help of a loved one was better than a slow, painful and lonely one. In fact when Frankie gave in and told Maggie that he would do what her father would have probably done while he was still alive and kill her, the only thing she could do was smile and let a big, juicy tear roll silently down her cheek after Frankie kissed her good-bye.
The Nazis however, dragged people out of their houses, loaded them on trains, stuffed them in gas chambers, furnaces, shot them, starved them and even mutilated them to death. The people did not show up, fall down on their knees and beg to have their eyes switched out with another twin’s. They didn’t run into the gas chambers, with Storm Troopers trying to hold them back, and struggle as hard as they could to turn on the gas. They were murdered, slain, slaughtered. They had no say, no choice. They were not questioned, asked if they wanted to live, people just killed them because that is what they were told would make their country thrive.
As for Clint Eastwood being against handicapped people, I once again must completely disagree with you. Eastwood decided to produce the movie after experiencing the thought provoking and emotionally touching aspects of the book. Both the book and the movie were mainly about a man who has a broken relationship with his daughter, who he writes to every week, but whose letters are sent back and never read, finding a woman who he loves just as much as his daughter and then having to face an awful decision. He had to decide whether he would help his surrogate daughter to die peacefully wish, or sit by her side for as long as he could knowing that someday she would find a way to go against his advice just as she had always done in the past and would kill herself. As I said before he loved her so much he could not deny her anything, even her autonomy. His friend Scrap then writes a letter to Frankie’s daughter letting know that her father does know how to be a father, that he does love her, and that if she would just give him a chance, he would always be there for her no matter what the situation turned out to be.
I understand that it is hard for you to except a movie involved with the topic of euthanasia since your wife has had cancer for ten years now. My mom has had cancer twice, and last year, although I did not watch him take his last breath, I watch my uncle slowly die the monstrous disease. Each time I went to see him he had lost so much weight I was sure the only way it was possible was for the fat to have just melted off of his bones, but he never gave up, even when he could no longer walk and barely communicate he wanted to stay in this world as long as possible and I am very thankful for that, I could never imagine what it would have been like, had he or my mom asked to be passively or actively euthanized. But what if they had? Could I deny them that wish? I would like too, but in the end could I? Should I? If every day I had to go to school and worry about receiving a call telling me that they had tried to commit suicide? I still would like them to change their mind, stay alive. I guess it’s truly just one of those decisions you can’t make until you are faced with it yourself. I do not want to face that decision. In a way I am afraid of it. You are afraid of it. I am not ashamed of this fact, and I assume neither are you. Actually having permission to kill just seems wrong period. But then if you cause them more harm in not killing them, in a way it could seem right. As much as I doubt I will ever have to actually face this situation with my mom, I continue to hope that it will never happen and that it never happens to you and your wife. However, it happens to people all around the world, every single day. So which do they choose, love or life, quality or quantity? Nobody is saying that being ill or handicapped lowers the quality of life, but for some people it does. They view the quality of their current life worse than that of death. So the question is then, what do their loved ones do? In a perfect world, every person who wanted to be euthanized would end up like General Dan from the movie Forrest Gump and come to terms with their new life, but this isn’t a perfect world and it is therefore pretty rare for such a thing to happen. You have every right to be against euthanasia, if that is the side of the argument you have chosen then so be it. As for me I shall remain undecided hoping that I will never have to decided. I eill continue to live however, knowing that (as a student looking into the health care career) one day, for that day, I may have to. Despite the fact that you are against euthanasia and cannot except the movie, does not make “Million Dollar Baby” a Neo- Nazi film and it doesn’t make Clint Eastwood against handicapped persons. I like life, life likes me. It “is a gift, that is why it is called the present.” We were given freewill so we could do what it is we wish with our gifts so shouldn’t people be allowed to do what they please with their life? As I continue to ponder over these questions I hope you reconsider your opinion of the movie as a Neo-Nazi film and wish your wife a full and speedy recovery.