A severely ill Dutch girl widely reported by international media as having been “legally euthanised” in a clinic in the Netherlands died at home, apparently after voluntarily refusing to eat or drink and with no evidence that her death was assisted.
The Guardian reports that “Media organisations from Australia to Britain reported it as a case of “legal euthanasia” performed by a Dutch “end-of-life clinic”, and Noa’s name was trending on social media on Tuesday in countries including Italy, where the story was front-page news. In fact, it is unclear how she died. No official cause of death has so far been given and there is no evidence the case involved either euthanasia or assisted suicide, both of which are legal in the Netherlands subject to strict conditions.”
In an award-winning autobiography published last year, titled Winning or Learning, Noa said she had been sexually molested at a children’s party aged 11, and later raped by two men when she was 14.
She described her subsequent mental illness, telling de Gelderlander in her interview that she hoped her book might prove useful for other young people facing similar problems, since there were no specialised Dutch institutions for teenagers needing psychiatric help.
Noa had written graphically in her autobiography of her horror at the involuntary hospital admissions and treatments she had previously undergone, saying she “almost felt like a criminal, even though I hadn’t so much as stolen a piece of candy in my life”.
De Gelderlander said she had spent her final days saying goodbye to her close family. A spokeswoman for the Dutch MP Lisa Westerveld, who has campaigned for improved youth psychiatric care and visited Noa shortly before her death, told DutchNews that as far as was known, Noa had died “because she didn’t eat any more”.
A hospital bed was set up in her parents’ home and last week she refused all food and fluids. Her parents and doctors reportedly agreed not to force-feed her. Dutch medical guidelines stipulate that if a patient withholds their consent, “care providers may not provide treatment, nursing or care”. In what she called a “sorrowful last post” on Instagram, now deleted, Noa said she had “stopped eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it has been decided to let me go, because my suffering is unbearable”. She said she expected to die within 10 days.
Euthanasia, in which a person’s life is ended by doctors, and assisted suicide, where patients are given the means to end their own life, have been legal in the Netherlands since 2002.
The law governing euthanasia and assisted suicide requires the patient’s suffering to be unbearable, with no prospect of improvement, and their request must be made voluntarily, not under the influence of others. The patient must also have been fully informed of their condition, prospects and choices, another independent doctor must agree with the request, and a doctor must be present when the procedure is performed, either by the doctor or the patient. For children aged between 12 and 16, the parents’ consent is required.
As reported by the Guardian