Last year  I wrote a blog post here advocating for the passage of a referendum on assisted suicide in Massachusetts.  In it, I argued that the religious, philosophical and spiritual complexities of the immensely personal issue should prevent the government from making a choice on the issue for its citizens.  Today, the BBC released a brief interview in which Steven Hawking, meant to promote an upcoming documentary.  In it, Hawking endorses physician assisted suicide: “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.  We don’t let animals suffer so why humans.  But there must be safeguards that the person concerned genuinely want to end their life and they’re not being pressurized into it and not have it done without their knowledge and consent, as would have been done to me [when I was on life support following a bought of pneumonia].”

The interview is available here and the documentary will be released on September 20.

Question 2 was narrowly defeated at the polls here in Massachusetts last year, but Professor Hawking’s views are a notable addition to the ongoing dialogue.