Over 14,000 people have signed a petition against a Bill which would legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.
The End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill, proposed by independent MSP Margo MacDonald, would allow the terminally ill and people who are “permanently physically incapacitated” to seek assistance in ending their lives.
The petition was organized by campaign group Care Not Killing, an alliance composed of churches, bioethicists, medical groups and disability groups.
The response has been welcomed by pro-life campaigners.
John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said: “Already we’ve been told by MSPs that, with over 14,000 replies, this is the largest public petition witnessed by our Parliament.”
He added: “This represents a real groundswell of Scottish opinion and our offices still have cards pouring in.”
And Ken Macintosh, MSP for Eastwood, said: “I’m not surprised at the response we’ve received.
“Whatever Margo’s intention, we’re putting out the wrong message if we even begin to go down that road. What we can do is focus on end-of-life care.”
The largest response to the Care Not Killing petition came from the Labour constituencies of Eastwood, Airdrie and Shotts and Hamilton North and Bellshill.
The controversial End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill is currently being examined by a Holyrood committee, and Miss MacDonald claims that there is widespread support for the principles of her Bill.
However, earlier this month a Holyrood consultation revealed that many Scots remain steadfastly opposed to it.
The consultation revealed that 86 per cent of respondents, some 601 people and organisations, were opposed to the Bill.
And in April, 16 palliative care specialists attacked the Bill in an open letter to The Times newspaper.
In the letter the medics warned that the Bill “sends a message to all disabled people and terminally-ill patients that somehow because they are dependent on others they are of less value to our society and so may feel that they ought to choose to bring forward the time of their death.”
The medics also cautioned that “the proposed Bill may put pressure on some vulnerable people to make a choice they do not wish to make.”