ROME – After experiencing sexual assault and abuse as a child, a 17-year-old Dutch girl suffering from depression was allowed to let herself die of starvation and dehydration on Wednesday.
The Vatican condemned the death as “a great loss” and encouraged Europe to cater to the needs of its youth.
“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for all,” Pope Francis tweeted on June 5, “We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope.”
Noa Pothoven had been a victim of sexual assault at the age of 11 and 12. At 14, she was raped by two men in Arnhem, where she lived. Like many other victims of sexual abuse, Pothoven did not report the attacks and began a path that led toward depression, anorexia and anxiety.
According to local reports, the young girl first approached the clinic to enroll for euthanasia in 2018 but was turned away because she was too young.
According to Dutch media, she was allowed to starve herself to death without a medical intervention – according to the law, this is neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide. Euthanasia is a physician directly killing the patient, and assisted suicide is the doctor assisting a patient in killing themselves, usually by writing a prescription for a lethal drug.
“Everything is all right,” Pothoven wrote on her last Facebook post last week, “don’t try and convince me that this is not good, this is my choice and it’s definitive. Love is letting go.”