Teen rape victim ends her life through legal euthanasia

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Paulina Gutierrez Alonzo, a 26-year-old Quiche indigenous woman, folds her hands as she answers questions during an interview at her grandfather’s house in Joyabaj, Guatemala, Thursday, July 26, 2018. Gutierrez Alonzo was deported from United States in June and separated from her 7-year-old daughter Antonia Yolanda Gomez Gutierrez, who is currently at an immigration center […]

(WFLA) – Clarification: An earlier version of this story reported that Noa Pothoven’s death came via euthanasia, which she had initially requested. The Dutch Health Ministry said Wednesday that Noa’s family was maintaining that euthanasia — the definition of which is contested — had not occurred while indicating that the circumstances of her death were still being investigated.

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A Dutch teenager who was raped as a child and spent years suffering from post traumatic stress disorder has been legally euthanized in the Netherlands, the Washington Post reported. 

With the assistance of an end of life clinic, Noa Pothoven, 17, died at her home in Arnhem Sunday after she was granted the right to euthanasia in The Hague. 

“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,” Pothoven wrote of her decision on social media. “I breathe, but I no longer live.”

She continued the post, telling friends and followers “not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final.” The post has since been deleted.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia in 2001. 

Under the law, children as young as 12 can be legally euthanized as long as they have their parents permission and consult a doctor who determines whether the patient has experienced “unbearable and hopeless suffering” and the death is justified. A second doctor must agree in writing and a panel must confirm all requirements have been met. 

“In the Netherlands, euthanasia is understood to mean termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient. Euthanasia does not mean simply desisting from treatment when further intervention is pointless and allowing nature to take its course,” the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in an FAQ document on the legislation. “The main aim of the policy is to bring matters into the open, to apply uniform criteria in assessing every case in which a doctor terminates life, and hence to ensure that maximum care is exercised in such exceptional cases.”

Pothoven has written extensively about her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anorexia on social media. 

She said she was raped at a party when she was 11 years old. Three years later, she was raped by two men. 

“Noa was incredibly strong and very open. I will never forget her. We will continue her struggle,” Lisa Westerveld, a member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands, said after visiting Pothoven at her home days before she died. “It was nice to see her again. It is also very unreal.” 

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