On Tuesday, reports flooded the Internet of a Dutch teenage rape victim being legally euthanized for depression. However, clarified reporting has revealed that although Noa Pothoven, 17, did request to be medically euthanized, she was refused the deadly “treatment.” Tragically, Pothoven died of self-starvation on Sunday.
“Initial reports claimed Noa Pothoven chose to end her life Sunday with the assistance of an end of life clinic, which has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002,” said a Fox News report. “But it is unclear whether she died because doctors directly intervened, or if she refused to eat.”
A spokesman for Dutch parliament member Lisa Westerveld told DutchNews.nl that “as far as we know, [Pothoven] died because she didn’t eat any more.” Westerveld was allowed to say good-bye to the teen before she passed.
According to the U.K.-based outlet The Sun, Pothoven suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anorexia. She was reportedly molested as a child and raped by two men at the age of 14.
On Wednesday, POLITICO Europe correspondent Naomi O’Leary corrected the apparent misreporting from mainstream outlets, such as The Daily Beast and The Daily Mail (UK), regarding the teen’s death.
“I spoke to Paul Bolwerk, a reporter who has been covering the story for [De Gelderlander] since 2018,” posted O’Leary in a Twitter thread. “Noa Pothoven had been severely ill with anorexia and other conditions for some time. Without telling her parents, she sought and was refused euthanasia.”
“The family had tried many kinds of psychiatric treatment and Noa Pothoven was repeatedly hospitalised; she made a series of attempts to kill herself in recent months. In desperation the family sought electro shocktherapy, which was refused due to her young age,” explained the reporter. “After electroshock therapy was refused, Pothoven insisted she wanted no further treatment and a hospital bed was set up at home in the care of her parents. At the start of June she began refusing all fluids and food, and her parents and doctors agreed not to force feed her.”
“A decision to move to palliative care and not to force feed at the request of the patient is not euthanasia. Dutch media did not report Noa Pothoven’s death as a case of euthanasia. This idea only appeared in English language pickups of Dutch reporting,” O’Leary added.
The death of Pothoven sparked commentary on the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide. For example, Pope Francis weighed in via Twitter, writing, “Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for all. We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope.”
In the Netherlands, euthanasia and assisted suicide have been legalized since 2002. In August, an elderly woman was reportedly euthanized against her will upon the directive of her own family.
“[T]he 74-year-old unidentified woman had been suffering dementia for some time and previously told people she would undergo assisted suicide if ‘the time was right.’ As her dementia progressed, she never put in a request to die and had surpassed the point of giving her full consent. It was then that her doctor declared her to be ‘suffering intolerably’ and proceeded to euthanize her,” according to LiveAction, The Daily Wire reported.
At least 83 mentally ill people were killed by assisted suicide in the Netherlands in 2017, a LiveAction report said.