In a recent interview with the BBC he said: “We don’t let animals suffer, so why humans?”
Previously, 71 year-old Stephen Hawking, who for the last 50 years has lived with motor neurone disease, did not support the right to die. Referring to euthanasia in 2006, he said, “The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake…. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”
He has now spoken out in favour of assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses.
According to an article by Rob Copper in the Daily Mail, UK, he said: “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.
“But 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.”
Professor Hawking was given just two to three years to live when he was diagnosed with his incurable condition aged 21.
Following a bout of pneumonia in 1985, he was placed on a life support machine which his first wife, Jane Hawking, had the option to switch off. But he fought back against the disease and went on to complete his popular science best-seller A Brief History of Time, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.