Dutch teen’s death misreported as “legal euthanasia” in worldwide news

Dutch teen’s death misreported as “legal euthanasia” in worldwide news

You may have already seen the news of a teenager (17) from Arnhem who passed away recently, a conscious decision after years of dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia due to repeated sexual assaults when she was only a child. She later also became a victim of rape. Many media outlets have, however, misreported her case as one of legal euthanasia.

Fake news spreading across the world

After her death, Noa Pothoven’s story was reported on news sites in Spain, Turkey, Finland, India, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, the UK and the US to name just a few. Media outlets from these countries, however, spoke of legal euthanasia, whilst this was not the case.

GroenLinks MP Lisa Westerveld, who was in close contact with the family and Noa, spoke out on the subject tweeting, “There is a lot of misinformation in the international press about the tragic death of Noa. Her friends and family want people to know that she did not die of euthanasia.”

According to newspaper de Gelderlander, Noa did approach an end of life clinic in The Hague last year, without the knowledge of her parents, but her request was denied due to her age. The teen passed away on Sunday, June 2, after having stopped eating and drinking for some time. She used her last days to say goodbye to her family and loved ones before drifting away in a hospital bed in her parent’s living room.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands

According to the Dutch government, euthanasia and assisted suicide are only legal if the criteria in the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act are met in full. A patient must make a request, with euthanasia being the only option left for them to end their suffering.

It must be noted that patients have no absolute right to euthanasia and doctors have no absolute duty to perform it. From the age of 12, children can request euthanasia but must have consent from their parents. From 16 years of age up until 18, parental consent is not required but parents must be involved in the decision-making process. Once 18, it is possible to request euthanasia without one’s parents having a say.

Noa’s decision to stop eating and drinking in order to bring about her own death is not considered euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide according to Dutch law. In the Netherlands, it is up to a patient as to whether or not they receive treatment.

If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out to the 113 Suicide Prevention Line on 0900-0113. Their crisis line is open 24/7.

​​​​​​​Thumb: Noa Pothoven via Winnen of Leren/Instagram

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

Read more



Leave a comment