I wasn't able to attend but I admired the motivation behind those who called a recent meeting to discuss the End-of-Life Choice issues. Their advertised intention was to have a balanced, dispassionate, calm discussion of the subject. What a great place to start, I thought.
However, a first-person report that came to me about the event was that the Hon Maggie Barry was leading speaker one side of the debate. She might have been a good selection as she is a member of the Justice Select Committee which has to study the David Seymour Bill for Parliament. But I am told that she used words like "killed" and "murder" in the context of the discussion. Evidently she made it abundantly clear that she, like "Turkey" O'Connor who chaired the previous Committee*, has not only made up her mind on the issue but is resolved to do battle with it in ways that, in a civilised society, should surely be called into question. My informant said the event was not a debate at all but was simply "The Maggie Barry Show".
On a Select Committee of Parliament we hope for people who have open minds and have the willingness to explore all sides of the issue without descending to manipulation of the terms and derogatory verbal abuse. I hope the Committee includes many who will reject these latter techniques for their arguments on this particular committee.
I hear that the Catholic constituency has again orchestrated a flood of submissions along the lines of their own distinctive theology and doctrine. Again, no doubt. they have been told not to mention the fact that they are Catholic; quite rightly, they fear that a maturing society may not wish to be dictated to by an ancient faith. Indeed, a lot of other churches - including my own - have failed to declare on the matter or just kicked for touch. But religion is not the only way in which the principle of compassion may yet find a place in the hearts of those who make this decision for us.
Here's a funny thing; didn't Jesus talk a lot about compassion?
* Dedicated readers of my blog may recall that one of my respondents observed that asking O'Connor to chair a Committee on End of Life Choice was like asking a Turkey to convene a meeting on the future of Thanksgiving.