British scientist Stephen Hawking backs assisted suicide

Stephen Hawking, the British theoretical physicist who suffers from motor neurone disease, has publicly backed the notion of assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses.

"We don't let animals suffer, so why humans?" the 71-year-old said in a BBC interview, although he insisted there should be safeguards.

Hawking is regarded as one of the world's most brilliant living scientists, who shot to popular fame with his 1988 international bestseller "A Brief History of Time".

He is also known for his disability, having spent most of his life in a wheelchair and speaking through a machine.

Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of that attacks the nerves controlling voluntary movement.

After suffering from pneumonia, he was once put on a life support machine which his wife was given the option of switching off.

Asked about the idea of , Hawking said: "I think those who have a and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their lives and those that help them should be free from prosecution.

"We don't let animals suffer, so why humans?"

"There must be safeguards that the person concerned genuinely wants to end their life and they are not being pressurised into it or have it done without their knowledge or consent, as would have been the case with me."

He was speaking in an interview aired Tuesday ahead of the premiere of a new film about his life on Thursday, and after the release of a new book last week entitled "My Brief History".

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stephen Hawking: Explore space for humanity's sake

Apr 10, 2013

Stephen Hawking, the British physicist who spent his career decoding the universe and even experienced weightlessness, is urging the continuation of space exploration—for humanity's sake.

Heaven is a 'fairy story', says Stephen Hawking

May 16, 2011

British scientist Stephen Hawking has branded heaven a "fairy story" for people afraid of the dark, in his latest dismissal of the concepts underpinning the world's religions.

Recommended for you

Were clinical trial practices in East Germany questionable?

9 hours ago

Clinical trials carried out in the former East Germany in the second half of the 20th century were not always with the full knowledge or understanding of participants with some questionable practices taking place, according ...

Schumacher's doctor sees progress after injury

Oct 23, 2014

A French physician who treated Michael Schumacher for nearly six months after the Formula One champion struck his head in a ski accident says he is no longer in a coma and predicted a possible recovery within three years.

User comments