Euthanasia vs Assisted Suicide: Bioethics Professor Examines Death of Dutch Teen

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Currents News Staff

Seventeen-year-old Dutch Noa Pothoven is the most recent case in the debate for the right to life, questioning whether euthanasia or assisted suicide is to blame for her death.

Having a terminal illness, being given a limited time to live or “unbearable suffering”, these are all reasons one can request euthanasia or assisted suicide in the Netherlands.

Fr. Gonzalo Miranda, an expert on euthanasia in Rome, explains that while morally, both are means to an end, legally they are viewed differently.

“For a legal point of view, it’s very important because in some places euthanasia isn’t legal, but assisted suicide is,” said Miranda.

Fr. Miranda says when the state does not uphold the dignity of life and encourages one to continue living, pressure is placed on each person.

“This young 17-year-old girl who just committed suicide in Holland. She had a series of problems and a temptation to kill herself. When she finds an environment in society that says, ‘It’s a right,’ if you want euthanasia, you have a right to it. This creates a terrible pressure,” he added.

He asserts a definition of who is able to die and when is established. If a person is young, healthy or useful, the state automatically gives them a greater dignity than an older person who is in deteriorating health.

“We have two types of citizens, group A and group B. For some, we have to protect their life, even against their will. For others, no,” Miranda continued.

Pope Francis also tweeted after Noa’s death saying, “Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for all. We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope.”

In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is also legal is some states, owing the reason to “terminal illness” or having less than “six months to live.” suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-34.