Bethesda, Md. – Score one for Clint Eastwood for his award winning film, “Million Dollar Baby,” a brilliantly executed attack on life after spinal cord injury (SCI).
It is exquisitely filmed and acted. Eastwood, director and star of the film, and actors Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman know their craft. Paring the story to basics, Frankie (Eastwood), an aging manager, agrees to train Maggie (Swank), a talented boxer. Maggie takes a fall and sustains SCI. Frankie then kills Maggie in a nursing home at her request.
Eastwood’s message that life with SCI, with a Disability, is not worth living is a prejudice shared by many. Missing is an exploration of why Maggie was in a nursing home without Rehabilitation rather than returning home and attempting a decent quality of life.
Eastwood fails to include mention that it is discrimination, poverty, and an inaccessible society that sometimes lead newly-injured people to abandon hope and choose death.
“Eastwood is remembered by many for his attack on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2000,” said Marcie Roth, CEO of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association. “I’m saddened but not surprised that he uses the power of fame and film to perpetuate his view that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living.”
Perhaps this movie is Dirty Harry’s revenge for being sued in 1997 after refusing to include $7000 worth of accessible bathrooms in his 6.7 million dollar resort renovation. Eastwood spearheaded the call to weaken the ADA by including a detrimental ninety-day notification provision.
The fact that Eastwood refused pre-lawsuit notification via certified mail and was sued under California state law not the ADA came out at a subsequent congressional hearing.
“Many people with SCI and other disabilities survive, thrive, and contribute to our society,” stated Roth. “Dirty Harry could win the day and show us all a better use of his legendary talent by portraying disabled lives well-lived rather than sending the damaging message “better dead than disabled.”
Contact: Janine Bertram Kemp 503-622-6387
For coverage in the London Daily Telegraph:
Disabled groups condemn Eastwood euthanasia film
For Background on Eastwood’s attack on the ADA, see
For more on Million Dollar Baby see:
The Denver Post: Disabled vs. Eastwood, Round Two
Chicago Sun-Times: Critics have no right to play spoiler
Ragged Edge online: Clint Eastwood and ‘opportunism’