Stephen Hawking is much more known for his opinion on physics than his outlook on social issues, but he recently shared his thoughts with a topic that hits particularly close to home for the 73-year-old Cambridge professor: assisted suicide. In an interview with Irish comedian and television presenter Dara Ó Briain for a BBC One documentary, Hawking said he would contemplate the act if he ever felt he had become a burden to his loved ones.

Hawking has a debilitating motor neural disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Recently, in a not-yet-aired interview with the BBC, Hawking further cemented his stance on assisted suicide by adding that he might even consider the act, “only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me.” According to the physicist, keeping a person alive against their wishes is an “ultimate indignity,” The Daily Telegraph reported.

Hawking does not have plans of leaving us just yet, he told Ó Briain. “I am damned if I’m going to die before I have unraveled more of the universe.”

Hawking was not always so in favor of the idea of euthanasia. The scientist has previously been vocal with his attempt at suicide in the early days of the diagnosis, explaining that his endeavor was thwarted because he found “the reflex to breathe was too strong.” Due to this experience, he previously commented on how he viewed the act as a “great mistake” and emphasized that “where there’s life, there is hope,” Mashable reported.

Over the years, however, his stance on the controversial issue has shifted, and in 2013 he shared his change of heart.

"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," Hawking explained to the BBC.

We do not let animals suffer when they become ill, he explained, so why would we allow a human being to do so?

Despite Hawking’s beliefs, assisted suicide remains illegal in his home country of England as well as throughout most of the United States. Canada recently made international news after striking down a bill that would ban doctor-assisted suicide, thus making the practice fully available for mentally competent Canadian patients with terminal illnesses.

Countries such as France also seem to be making strides toward the legalization of the practice. Most recently, in 2014, assisted suicide, also known as “death with dignity,” made headlines when Brittany Maynard, a young woman diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, urged California lawmakers to start a movement regarding patients' choice.