5 Movie Picks with a Bioethics Theme
A few new movies have appeared in theaters recently that can be added to what is becoming a growing cannon of films that tackle the many facets and complexities surrounding issues in bioethics. Tonight, I saw one of them. This inspired me to compose a list of recent films (plus a classic or two) that help us better understand the medical humanities and perhaps, ourselves. These movies depict individuals answering the very personal questions of patient autonomy, “What do I want to happen to me, to my body for the sake of my health or medical care?”
- Seven Pounds (2008). After a profound life experience, develops an extremely altruistic view towards organ donation, and actively sets out to assist individuals in need of organ donation. On one level, this film allows us to follow the lead character as he deals with his untreated situational depression, while it also chronicles his experience with living donation.
- John Q (2002). The lead character of this film, devises an unconventional solution (similar to that of the lead in Seven Pounds) to obtain the organ needed for his ailing young son. In addition, to patient autonomy, this film deals with issues of distributive justice and access to care.
- The Soloist(2009, now playing). Based on true-life events, this film is a thoughtful and realistic examination of how Ayers who is chronically ill defines quality of life for himself. It goes further to show the development of a friendship between the lead characters
and how that friendship forces Lopez to accept Ayers on Ayers’ own terms. This was a very moving story of patient autonomy and mental illness.
- My Sister’s Keeper (2009, opens June 26). An adolescent girl undermines her parents when she decides she’s old enough to determine exactly what she wants to happen to her own body. In addition to patient autonomy, this movie also deals with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
- Steel Magnolias (1989). This classic ‘chick flick’ examines the relationship between a mother and her adult diabetic daughter. The candid depiction covers issues of patient autonomy, organ donation, withdrawal of treatment, and grief.
Definitely check out these movies, in addition to being entertained, you just might become a more sophisticated and informed patient in the future. At the very least, it will inspire you to give pause and consider how you define quality of life, what treatments you might want or what treatments you might refuse in preservation of that quality of life.