Stephen Hawking is for assisted suicide. Kind of not a surprise in that I think I remember reading he’s an atheist. But in reading the article, I think Hawking is either confused about what assisted suicide is or else he’s attempting to confuse others.

Firstly, he asks, “We don’t let animals suffer, so why humans?”

Well, people aren’t animals so there’s that. And let’s be honest, it’s not really a choice between suffering completely alone and unaided or dying. Pain management has never been better. The alleviation of suffering is pretty much the goal of every sane person so he is being unnecessarily divisive and I think dishonest by pretending this is a choice between those who would seek to cease suffering and those who would keep them alive while presumably ignoring their suffering.

Secondly, and I think more crucially, he cites an example from his own life as grounds to support assisted suicide.

Hawking said he backed the right to die but only if the person involved had chosen that route.

He recalled how he was once put on a life support machine after suffering pneumonia and his wife was given the option of switching off the machine but this is not something he wanted.

But that’s completely besides the issue. Turning off a ventilator is not the same as injecting someone with poison and killing them. Hawking must know that, right?

And in the end, let’s be honest. Though Hawking talks about “safeguards” needing to be put in place, there’s all sorts of dangers to the terminally ill and disabled with assisted suicide laws. Some will inevitably be pressured into “choosing” suicide. Those seeking to reduce healthcare costs will inevitably urge this course of action on some, and it only takes a bad day or two to relent.

People in pain need support and love, they don’t need to be constantly battling health care professionals to stay alive. We’re all supposed to be on the same side here.