This fortnight is the final sitting period before the stem cell issue is debated in the Senate in early November, and the number of people giving lectures and forums seems to be growing all the time.
I’m aware of four different seminars being held in Parliament House over the next few days. There’s Emeritus Professor of Medicine T John Martin from Melbourne Uni, Professor of Medical Genetics Bob Williamson from Melbourne Uni, Prof James Sherley from the Centre for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, and Fr Frank Brennan, the Jesuit lawyer and ethicist from the Australian Catholic Uni. There may be more I haven’t heard of.
There’s also a few different information sheets put together by the Parliamentary Library, along with plenty of other material – all available by clicking on this link.
The public forum I chaired in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago got about 50 people, which was probably fairly good for a Monday night. The email traffic has started to warm up on it too, although I do wonder if it’s something that is grabbing the attention of the majority of the population.
I wouldn’t predict the outcome of the vote just yet. A lot of the arguments being put against the legislation are basically essentially an anti-abortion position and if that’s how MPs generally approach it, it will probably pass. However, I think some of the views specifically focusing on arguments to do with cloning may engage people somewhat differently, and may make the result a bit harder to predict.