A teenage girl, as beautiful as she is intelligent, and boasting a horde of friends, online and off, writes a bestselling, award-winning book at the age of 16, filled with eloquence and designed to help others. She has a fruitful life ahead of her.
At 17 this inspiring young Dutch woman, Noa Pothoven, apparently died of self-starvation on Sunday, in her family home with the passive consent of her parents.
She had been raped by two men at 14, and was sexually assaulted at a children’s party at 11, and she found the pain of the memories “unbearable.”
Dutch law allows children as young as 12 to “choose” euthanasia. Juxtaposing that, capital punishment was officially abolished in the Netherlands in 1870, though Nazi officers were executed by the Dutch military as late as 1952. In 1983 the ban was added to the Dutch Constitution so that now there can be no exceptions.
The “special provisions dealing with requests from minors (12 to 17 years of age) for termination of life and assisted suicide” require that “the parents or guardians need to agree to the request.”
Noa’s case fell under the provision stating that minors “who are 16 or 17 years of age can make the request without their parents’ permission, although the parents do need to be involved in the discussions.” While in Holland “Euthanasia is not permitted in the case of minors aged 11 or under,” under the law, “One exception is the termination of life of newborn infants suffering extreme pain and discomfort. Reports of such cases are initially reviewed by the central committee on late-term termination of pregnancy and termination of life in newborn babies.”
The United States of America does not yet have a “Central Committee On Termination of Life in Newborn Babies” — although if we ever do, Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, beleaguered for months now by a blackface scandal and refusing to resign in the wake of it, would be the perfect chairman. In January he described how state law would allow a baby born during a late-term abortion to be refused help as he or she is dying.
“The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said.
Lives Not Worth Living
Those in the abortion rights movement in the U.S. usually remember not to use the word “infant,” but both Northam and the Dutch government have apparently moved beyond feeling the need for such caution.
In the case of the Netherlands, they are very far beyond. The government is using prenatal screening to convince mothers to abort as many babies with Down’s Syndrome as possible, the rationale being that such a life is not worth living and those with Down’s are a financial burden on the state.
Two years ago, Charlotte Fien, then 21 years old, who has Down’s Syndrome and is an activist on behalf of herself and others with the condition, got a standing ovation for her speech before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, where she likened such targeted abortions of Down’s babies to the Nazis’ eugenics-based euthanasia programs.
“I am not suffering,” Fien declared. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down’s Syndrome are suffering either. We live happy lives,” she said, adding that “We just have an extra chromosome” and “We are still human beings. We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us” and “Please don’t try to kill us all off.”
There is a seeming distinction between Holland’s euthanasia and assisted suicide statutes and those in the U.S., most infamously Oregon, in that you don’t have to be dying or in physical pain for the Dutch government to help you kill yourself. “It is difficult to establish objectively whether suffering is unbearable,” it states, adding that “physician-assisted suicide at the request of a chronic psychiatric patient is” not “prohibited in all cases,” and pointing out that “Around two thirds of Dutch psychiatrists believe that assisting the suicide of a psychiatric patient can be acceptable in certain situations, although not all them would be willing to actually do so.”
In actual cases of assisted suicide in the U.S., however, emotional and mental distress can be as much a factor as physical pain — which means that the logic is there, ready and waiting, to extend legal assisted suicide to those not terminally ill and in no physical discomfort.
An example was Brittany Maynard, the victim of an aggressive brain tumor who at 29 moved from San Francisco to Oregon in 2014 to take advantage of the state’s euthanasia law. In an article giving the rationale for her decision, she wrote as much of the non-physical suffering for herself and loved ones as of her own pain from the cancer.
“I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that. I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family,” she wrote, seeking to avoid “weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain.”
Having the euthanasia medicine “in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief,” she added. “Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain,” she wrote.
“I hope for the sake of my fellow American citizens that I’ll never meet that this option is available to you. If you ever find yourself walking a mile in my shoes, I hope that you would at least be given the same choice and that no one tries to take it from you.”
Change & Confusion In The Value of Human Life
But the logic is glaring. Why must the choice be available only for those walking a mile in Brittany’s shoes? What about Noa’s fellow teenagers walking in her shoes? Or 12-year-olds who no longer wish to live?
For that matter, why not supply the hemlock to someone of any age suffering from, say, a broken heart, or a ruined career? The Dutch say a preteen is competent to choose suicide. From 1990 to 2002 the Netherlands also set the age of consent at 12 years old. Even today the consent age is 11 in Nigeria, 12 in the Philippines, and 13 in Japan.
Western civilization is allowing the value of human life to become ever more amorphous and confused, from lawmakers of the left in Europe to religious authorities that now extend even to the Pope. Executing a violent criminal is now a shameful vestige of our savage past, but suicide and infanticide — even with a eugenics purpose — are no longer classified alongside murder and manslaughter.
Noa Pothoven had everything to live for, and in a few years, the 17-year-old would have realized it. Just as some of the 17-year-old girls in any American town who feel worthless right this moment, because of some heartache or family matter or age-old teen trauma, will realize it when more time passes. She would have marveled that her younger self could rebound from a wrenching tragedy and precociously write her valuable, remarkably mature book, titled Winning Or Learning, that reflects on the lessons she and others could learn from the pain. What other books would she have written that are now lost to us?
This extraordinary young lady became subject to the power of suggestion. A culture and a legal regime that presents suicide as a qualified positive will find suicide embraced as a normal choice — including by those who literally have the most to lose (in terms of time): the young. This teenage girl actually inquired about suicide with the Life End Clinic in The Hague without the knowledge of her parents. If there were no Life End Clinic and laws enshrining suicide as morally acceptable, Noa’s life might very well not yet have ended.
The popular culture always tells us in what great esteem we hold survivors. The great esteem the Dutch and many others in changing Europe have for giving up on one’s own life — i.e. being an anti-survivor — for taking innocent life, refraining from taking guilty life, and treating life as expendable in the quest to eradicate undesirables, has already begun to spread to America.
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