Stephen Hawking, who has been battling ALS since the age of 21 and has been on life support for the last 23 years, has flipped his position on assisted suicide and now believes that suffering individuals should have the right to die.

Hawking, 71, was long a strong opponent of physician assisted suicide. Having almost lost his own life during a 1985 bout of pneumonia when his wife was given the option of pulling the plug, the esteemed theoretical physicist was wary of the practice. Now, however, he’s showing a change of heart.

"We don't let animals suffer, so why humans?" he told the BBC, before adding precautions. "There must be safeguards that the person concerned genuinely wants to end their life and they are not being pressurized into it or have it done without their knowledge or consent as would have been the case with me.”

Hawking, who once said that doctor-assisted dying is “a great mistake,” now believes it should be possible for those with terminal illness who are in great pain to have their lives ended “without prosecution.”


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Withdrawing life support is legal in the U.S., but assisting suicide – even by a doctor who is asked to by a terminally ill patient – is punishable by law.

– Chelsea Regan

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