Stephen Hawking Changes Tune on Assisted Suicide He's now in favor of it, assuming there are safeguards By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Sep 18, 2013 11:26 AM CDT 57 comments Comments This is a 2012 file photo of physicist and best-selling author Stephen Hawking. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Newser) – Stephen Hawking has come out in favor of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, provided there are significant safeguards in place. When asked about his position on the issue in 2006, the famous cosmologist and author called it a "great mistake," noting, "While there's life, there's hope," reports the Guardian. But in a new BBC interview tied to the upcoming release of the documentary Hawking, he changes his tune. "We don't let animals suffer, so why humans?" he asks, saying that family members should be free to help end a loved one's suffering without fear of prosecution. But precautions must be in place to ensure "that the person concerned genuinely wants to end their life and they are not being pressured into it or have it done without their knowledge or consent as would have been the case with me"—Hawking was put on life support in 1985, and his wife was given the option to pull the plug. In the documentary, which Reuters notes is set for UK release on Friday, he also addresses his failed marriages.