Emma Thompson: Religious objections to saving a kid’s life are ‘not reasonable’

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Here are some photos of Emma Thompson at the New York screening of The Children Act, her new film. In the film, Emma plays a judge (in the UK) who has to make a ruling on whether a child of Jehovah’s Witness parents can and should receive a life-saving blood transfusion. The child is dying of leukemia, and while this particular case isn’t based on a true story, there are many true stories like this, where doctors and hospitals have to go to court to treat children whose parents have religious objections. Here’s the trailer:

I think it would be a better film without all of the judge’s marriage drama – it seems like they’re trying to tell two different stories, but what do I know. Anyway, at the New York screening, Emma chatted with Page Six about how this role was difficult for her to play because she finds it hard to rationalize how any parent could object to saving their child’s life:

“Very difficult for me. I certainly respect a mother and father’s decision for their own child, but still can’t rationalize allowing a son to die. I met with judges to learn what pains they might go through in handling such a situation. Some friends preside in family court. We discussed how hard it is to deal with such responsibility. They told me how they handle it. How difficult it can be. We discussed courage of convictions and the power prosecutors can wield. I did research. I sat in court. I watched how they presided. It’s hard to compete with religion yet allowing parents to affect that decision, albeit for religious purposes, seems not reasonable when your child could die. Our scenes are intense. However, many people do things you can’t understand. A complexity of genetics negates existence of these arguments. You see young people dying early so it’s a philosophical road. You must let it go when you realize people do things you just can’t understand.”

[From Page Six]

I think the filmmakers probably want to showcase the “both sides” argument and that’s why the role of the “dying child” is played by a well-spoken teenager. It feels like the issue is more clear-cut when it’s a younger kid who might not really understand what’s going on, and it’s just about the parents’ religious beliefs. In those cases, of course there should be a medical and legal intervention, just my opinion. But in this film, it’s like the judge character is going through a philosophical debate with the dying teenager about his right to die. Which… is still a complicated conversation to have, but most of these cases aren’t like that.

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Photos courtesy of Getty.

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