A 17-year-old girl who was raped as a young child and felt she could no longer go on living has been legally euthanised at home with the help of an ‘end-of-life clinic’.
Noa Pothoven died in a hospital bed in her living room after being granted the right to euthanasia in the Netherlands.
The Dutch teenager from Arnhem felt that life had become unbearable and she could no longer carry on.
Noa Pothoven announced her decision in an Instagram post (above), in which she asked people not to try and change her mind and said ‘love is letting go’
In Holland, children as young as 12 can be granted euthanasia if they desire, but only after a doctor concludes that the patient’s suffering is unbearable with no clear end in sight.
In 2017, some 6,585 people chose euthanasia to end their own lives in the Netherlands, about 4.4 per cent of the total number of more than 150,000 registered deaths in the country, according to the Regional Euthanasia Review Committee which strictly monitors all cases.
What are the conditions for legal euthanasia in the Netherlands?
Dutch law allows euthanasia when each of the following conditions are met:
- The patient’s suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement
- The request to end their life must be voluntary (without the influence of mental illness and drugs) and persist over time
- The patient must be fully aware of their condition, prospects and options
- A second, independent doctor must confirm the above conditions are met
- The death must be carried out in a medically appropriate fashion with the doctor present
- The patient is at least 12 years old, and patients under 16 require parental consent
- Afterwards the doctor must report the cause of death to the municipal coroner
The practice is hotly debated but illegal in the UK, but it’s legal in some US states, Canada and Belgium.
Noa had penned an autobiography called ‘Winning or Learning’ about her battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia after being molested and raped at a young age.
Noa said she wanted her book to help vulnerable youngsters who struggle with life, saying that the Netherlands does not have specialised institutions or clinics where teenagers can go for psychological or physical aid.
In a social media post one day before her death last Sunday, Noa made her decision public.
She wrote: ‘I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway.
‘Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalisation, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive.
‘I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die. After years of battling and fighting, I am drained. I have quit eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it was decided to let me go because my suffering is unbearable.’
Noa added that she never felt as though she was ‘alive’, rather surviving, writing: ‘I breathe, but I no longer live.’
Finally she asked her friends and followers on Instagram to ‘not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final.
‘Love is letting go, in this case,’ she added.
Noa was granted euthanasia because her case met all the conditions required by law since the practice was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002
Noa Pothoven, a 17-year-old girl who was raped as a youngster and suffered with mental health issues, who was legally euthanised in the Netherlands
Noa and her mother, Lisette, who according to her ‘has always been there for me’. At age 17 Noa did not legally require her mother’s consent to be euthanised
In 2016, 41-year-old Mark Langedijk ended his life by fatal injection rather than carry on living as an alcoholic.
According to an account published by his brother, Mr Langedijk decided that death was the only way to escape from his addiction to drink and he was euthanised by a GP at his parents’ home.
At the time, British MPs said Mr Langedijk’s case was evidence of the ‘slippery slope’ effect in which legal euthanasia can be spread to wider and wider groups of people.
Fiona Bruce, Tory MP for Congleton and co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said: ‘This news is deeply concerning and yet another reason why assisted suicide and euthanasia must never be introduced into the UK.
‘What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction – which can be provided – not to be euthanised.’
Noa Pothoven with her award-winning autobiography Winning or Learning, which details her suicide attempts and struggles with depression and anorexia
WHERE IS ASSISTED DYING LEGAL IN EUROPE AND THE US?
Assisted dying refers to both voluntary active euthanasia and physician-assisted death. These two types of assisted dying distinguish a difference in the degree of the doctor’s involvement.
Only three countries in Europe approve of assisted dying as a whole: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
The first two even recognize requests from minors under strict circumstances, while Luxembourg excludes them from the legislation.
Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Austria allow physician-assisted death under specific scenarios.
Countries such as Spain, Sweden, England, Italy, Hungary, and Norway allow passive euthanasia under strict circumstances.
Passive euthanasia is when a patient suffers from an incurable disease and decides not to apply life-prolonging treatments, such as artificial nutrition or hydration.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in seven US states and the District of Columbia. It is an option given to individuals by law in the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. It is an option given to individuals in Montana via court decision
According to Dutch law, euthanasia is legal as long as it is performed in accordance with the strict standards described in the ‘Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act’ which was passed in parliament in 2001 and became law in 2002.
The law code reads: ‘Any person who deliberately terminates another person’s life at that person’s express and earnest request shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twelve years or a fifth-category fine.
But prosecutions can be suspended for doctors who carry out the practice under strict prerequisites.