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Stephen Hawking On Why He Supports Assisted Dying

July 16, 2014

Cambridge scientist Stephen Hawking is backing the Assisted Dying Bill which is being debated by peers on Friday.

The 72-year-old cosmologist said it was “discrimination against the disabled to deny them the right to kill themselves that able bodied people have.”

He said safeguards would be needed to ensure the person truly wanted to die.

Lord Falconers’s bill proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

More than 130 peers have put their names down to speak.

The Bill would enable doctors to help patients die by prescribing a lethal dose of drugs.

Two physicians would have to certify that the patient was terminally ill and expected to die within six months.

‘Freedom of the individual’

Prof Hawking said it would be “wrong to despair and commit suicide, unless one is in great pain, but that is a matter of choice.

“We should not take away the freedom of the individual to choose to die.”

But he admitted that he had once briefly tried to end his life when he had a tracheostomy – an operation to fit a breathing tube.

“I briefly tried to commit suicide by not breathing. However, the reflex to breathe was too strong.”

This interview with Prof Hawking is part of the wider coverage of the differing views on this issue running on BBC News this week in the run-up to the debate.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2014 7:01 pm

    Prof Hawking said it would be “wrong to despair and commit suicide, unless one is in great pain, but that is a matter of choice. but at the end of it all you given your consent to others so still suicide isn’t it by another method

  2. July 16, 2014 7:40 pm

    Life is, and should remain to be, a sacred gift. There may well be ‘something’ which we learn from the kind of circumstance which might make us wish to die – in that respect I think it was scandalous that the ex Archbishop of Canterbury should have announced that he now supports assisted dying (suicide, murder, call it what you will).

    Also, there is ample opportunity inherent to save money rather than spend it. I can think of numerous ways in which that little fact might come into play.

  3. July 17, 2014 12:55 pm

    So THIS is the thing that matters to him. Hawkings has been remarkably silent on the abuses disabled people are facing under this government, and how their rights, dignity, choices, potential are being taken away from them. But then, he’s always had his class privilege, and has no problem about being used by the government as a stick to beat other disabled people with, even though others with the same level of intelligence and talent will never get the support they need to achieve what he has. No – on these problems he stays silent. Yet flawed bills with potential for harm for so many, he supports. Frankly Hawkings is pretty clueless about these issues, and his special knowledge in his field does not make him an authoritative source of wisdom on anything else, as evidenced by some howlers he’s committed (his comments about women, for example)

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