WHEN we think about euthanasia, many of us picture an elderly person.
They’ve had many good years, but an illness has ruined their quality of life. They’re in pain, and they want to end things on their own terms. For many people, this is an easy concept to accept.
But a recent case in the Netherlands is getting a lot of media attention, and it’s troubling ethicists.
A sexual abuse victim in her 20s was allowed to go ahead with assisted suicide as she was suffering from “incurable” post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.
The law in the Netherlands states that doctors may perform euthanasia on anyone with “unbearable suffering”.
The girl had been abused between the age of five and 15. As a result of her abuse, she suffered severe anorexia, chronic depression, and hallucinations.
Doctors said her conditions were “incurable” despite some small improvements in her mental state after intensive therapy. Two years ago, they agreed to her wish to end her life.
The doctors judged her to be “totally competent” and that there was “no major depression or other mood disorder which affected her thinking”.
News of her death has triggered debate around the world about the ethics of assisted dying.
I’m in favour of assisted suicide/euthanasia in cases where people are dying, or have a condition (Huntington’s that will make their life intolerable). But declaring PTSD to be incurable seems a step too far to me.