John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris: The Collateral Damage of Legal Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Noa Pothoven

Last week, international news outlets reported that a 17-year-old Dutch girl named Noa Pothoven legally secured a physician’s help in killing herself after years of battling trauma from childhood sexual assault and rape.

This young woman, who had previously been hospitalized for extreme anorexia, underwent evaluations after requesting legal euthanasia. A few days before her death, she posted on Instagram that, “I’ve 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.”

Many jumped to the conclusion that she ended her life with a doctor’s help. But it turns out the story is more complicated. The Guardian reports that Pothoven’s request to die by doctors’ help was actually denied because she was too young, and she might benefit from counseling.

Instead, the girl decided to starve herself with her parents and doctors deciding not to intervene.

The whole thing is tragic, from her initial trauma to her eventual decision to die. But just because initial reports were mistaken about a physician being directly involved in her death doesn’t mean that it is unrelated to the Netherlands’ notoriously open euthanasia laws.

Quite the opposite, in fact. A growing body of research indicates that, contrary to expectations, legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide results in higher rates of suicide, both assisted and unassisted.

A 2015 study by Oxford researchers found that U.S. states where physician-assisted suicide became legal saw a 6.3 percent increase in total suicides. A 2017 study by Dutch researchers published in the Journal of Mental Health came to an even more startling conclusion: “… the option of euthanasia for people with psychiatric conditions does not reduce the number of nonassisted suicides [but] rather contributes to a rise in their numbers.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris