Stephen Hawking thinks assisted suicide should be a right. The 71-year-old cosmologist says people who are suffering should be allowed to voluntarily end their lives.
Hawking was diagnosed with a form of Motor Neuron Disease at the age of 21. ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is often fatal. Hawking has lived with the disease for 50 years.
Despite the diagnosis, and confinement to a wheelchair, Hawking has thrived. As reported by Hawking.org, Stephen Hawking has received 12 honorary degrees for his work in cosmology and physics.
Hawking managed his disease and has enjoyed an incredibly successful life. However, he has faced serious medical complications
At one point, Hawking was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed on life support. As reported by Fox News, his wife was offered the choice of removing the machines. Knowing he would want to remain alive, she decided against it.
On more than one occasion, Hawking has stated “while there’s life, there’s hope.”
Although Hawking chose to battle his illness, he believes others have the right to make their own decision. Hawking explains his point of view:
“I think those who have a terminal illness and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their lives, and those who help them should be free from prosecution.”
In an interview with BBC, Stephen Hawking supports assisted suicide. However, he does feel safeguards against abuse are necessary.
He suggests measures to prevent patients from being pressured into making the decision. He also explains that life support should never be removed without the patient’s permission.
In Britain, where Hawking is a resident, assisted suicide is currently illegal.
Although assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and certain US states, most countries outlaw the practice.
Stephen Hawking’s discussion about assisted suicide come days before the debut of his documentary. Hawking explores the incredible story of the scientist’s life and work. The film will debut on September 20.
[Image via Wikimedia]