Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, has spoken about ending life through assisted suicide, and has said that is the ultimate indignity to keep somebody alive against his or her wishes. This statement on a BBC programme, has added fuel to the raging debate over assisted suicide all over the world. Hawking said, if he felt that there was nothing more that he could contribute, or if he was a burden to people around him, he will consider ending his life. As mentioned, countries like the United States, Britain, India, and many others around the world are in the middle of a debate on assisted suicides, which could be termed as controversial, to say the least.
Recently, a bill has been proposed in the UK, which will legalize assisted dying in Wales and England. The bill would allow doctors to prescribe a dose of drugs that would be lethal for the patients who are terminally ill. The debate in favor of dignified, assisted death is bound to carry more weight with more people, professors, and scholars like Hawking speaking in favor of ending life through assisted suicide.
An observation has brought out some extraordinary numbers showing the massive increase of ‘suicide tourists’ across Europe. The study shows that within four years, the number of people choosing to go to Switzerland to end their lives by committing suicide, has grown by 100 percent. Citizens from neighboring countries like the UK and Germany are making up the bulk of the numbers. More data analysis has shown that people from 31 different nations were assisted in dying in Switzerland from the year 2008 through 2012.
The number of people undertaking suicide tourism in 2012 was 172. This showed a remarkable increase from the year 2008 when 123 people had gone to the country to end their lives. Patients suffering from various neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, and paralysis account for close to 50 percent of the instances of people travelling to Switzerland for assisted suicide. Hawking is 73-years-old, and suffers from advanced motor neurone disease himself. This is not the first time that the highly acclaimed physicist has shared his thoughts about assisted suicide. In an interview in 2014, Hawking had revealed that he had made attempts to end his life after his tracheostomy operation in mid-1980s.
Hawking said in the programme scheduled to be aired on June 16, 2015, that he would consider assisted suicide only if he were in immense pain, or he felt he had nothing to contribute to physics and to the world, or if he felt himself as a burden to his loved ones. Recently, Pope Francis had said that the right-to-die was a sin, and it was against God and his creation. He had also said that assisted suicide is a false sense of compassion. This statement from the Pope had dealt a major blow to the cause of legalizing assisted suicide.
Pope Francis had said that human life is always of quality, and must be regarded as sacred. He said that there was no human life which could be considered more sacred than the other, implying that all are made equal by the ‘creator.’ He said that every human life is sacred. The head of the Roman Catholic Church went on to say that similarly, no human life could be considered more important than the other based on the quality of life. He said that no human life’s importance can be distinguished based on economic and social opportunities, rights, and resources.
However, the Nobel peace laureate, Desmond Tutu, recently gave his full-fledged support to UK’s plan of legalizing death by assisted suicide. The debate in favor of assisted suicide has got a shot in the arm after Hawking spoke about ending life through assisted suicide, and said that it was the ultimate indignity to keep somebody alive against his or her wishes.
By Ankur Sinha
USA Today-Hawking would consider assisted suicide
E!Online-Stephen Hawking “Would Consider Assisted Suicide” If He Became a “Burden” to Others
The Times Of India-Keeping someone alive against their own wishes is the “ultimate indignity”: Stephen Hawking
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