New hope for MAiD opponents

  • February 3, 2023

Opponents of MAiD have a golden “window of opportunity” to change public opinion, but the trade-off is they can’t slam the door shut on those with differing views, warns veteran physician Dr. Peggy Gibson.

“This is a really good time if you have never written a letter or figured out how to advocate politically. This is a golden opportunity,” Gibson told audience members at the seminar “True Assistance in Dying: TRAiD for MAiD” held Jan. 24 at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Calgary.

She said the opening exists because Parliament has hit pause on plans to further expand so-called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) pending review of legislation that would have made Canadians dealing with mental illness eligible next month for doctor-assisted suicide. But she said critical care must be taken to exercise compassion and friendship in discussions with those who are undecided about Canada’s MAiD policies.

“I’m hoping we also grow in compassion for the people who don’t know what other road to take so that we won’t simply go, ‘you guys are wrong!’” said the veteran of more than 25 years as a doctor at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. 

Far better, she said, is asking, “How can we accompany you better? We understand this is a scary part of life’s journey.”’

Sharing wisdom from U.K. Catholic journalist Austen Ivereigh’s 2012 book How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues, Gibson offered pointers on how Catholics can endorse a culture of life. The central idea of the book is to shed light, not heat, she said. 

Five components of shedding light are:

  • Viewing controversy as an opportunity
  • Showing compassion
  • Engaging the undecided on the issue by asking good questions
  • Partaking in pre-evangelization
  • Embracing that friendship changes culture

Gibson said the necessary reset, especially important for those to whom controversy and conflict don’t come easily, is to witness a “love, light and life” greater than ourselves: “We are not trying to win an argument. We are to check our egos, like John the Baptist. We are to become less as the Lord becomes greater.” 

One example of showing compassion is actively listening to the anger and hurt behind someone advocating passionately for the right to die, she noted.  Engaging the undecided, meanwhile, involves planting ideas for the person to contemplate. The intent is to ask questions that help an individual understand the Church is not the repressive force depicted in mainstream culture but rather a positive entity championing the greater good of celebrating life, she said.

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