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Hawking: Suicide if I Become a Burden, Can’t Contribute

by | Jun 4, 2015

By Wesley J. Smith

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

I have been warning that the high-profile normalization of assisted suicide–and the media celebrating those who kill themselves in the face of disease–is leading toward an ethic in which people kill themselves to not be a ”burden,” in essence, a moral duty to die.

And now the great physicist Stephen Hawking has joined the parade, saying he would commit assisted suicide if he was no longer contributing or felt like a burden.

From the Telegraph story:

When asked by [Dara] O’Braian about his support for assisted dying, and what condition he would have to be in to consider it for himself, the physicist said: “To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity. “I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me.”

That’s a terrible thing to say–especially for him.

Hawking is not just a man on the street. His triumphing in the face of what is usually a relatively swift-acting terminal disease, to become one of history’s greatest scientists, has been a great source of hope to people going through all sorts of terrible difficulties.

By saying that being a burden or unable to contribute justifies suicide–the actual issue is rarely pain, which can significantly alleviated–Hawking abandons those who should be able to look to him as an inspiration for keeping on keeping on.

My friend Bob–who died of ALS–would also be appalled.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.

Categories: Assisted Suicide