original article: Sex abuse victim in her 20s allowed to choose euthanasia in Holland after doctors decided her post-traumatic stress and other conditions were incurable
May 10, 2016 by STEVE DOUGHTY
A former victim of child sex abuse has ended her life under Dutch euthanasia laws because she could not live with her mental suffering.
The woman, in her twenties, was given a lethal injection after doctors and psychiatrists decided that her post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions were incurable.
It went ahead despite improvements in the woman’s psychological condition after ‘intensive therapy’ two years ago, and even though doctors in the Netherlands accept that a demand for death from a psychiatric patient may be no more than a cry for help.
The woman, who has not been named, began to suffer from mental disorders 15 years ago following sexual abuse, according to the papers released by the Dutch Euthanasia Commission. The timescale means she was abused between the ages of five and 15.
News of her death angered anti-euthanasia MPs and disability campaigners in Britain. One Labour MP said it meant sex abuse victims were now being punished with death.
It comes at a time of continued controversy over assisted dying in Britain. A steady flow of people from this country travel to die legally at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, and judges and the courts appear to be leaning in favour of making it legal to help someone to die.
Details of the Dutch case were released by authorities anxious to justify euthanasia laws and to demonstrate that mercy killings are carried out under full and correct medical supervision.
The papers said that the woman, who was killed last year, had post-traumatic stress disorder that was resistant to treatment. Her condition included severe anorexia, chronic depression and suicidal mood swings, tendencies to self-harm, hallucinations, obsessions and compulsions.
She also had physical difficulties and was almost entirely bedridden. Her psychiatrist said ‘there was no prospect or hope for her. The patient experienced her suffering as unbearable’.
However, the papers also disclosed that two years before her death the woman’s doctors called for a second opinion, and on the advice of the new doctors she had an intensive course of trauma therapy. ‘This treatment was temporarily partially successful,’ the documents said.
Treatment was abandoned last year after independent consultants were called in and said the case was hopeless.
The consultants also said that despite her ‘intolerable’ physical and mental suffering, chronic depression and mood swings, she was entirely competent to make the decision to take her own life.
The patient, they said, was ‘totally competent’ and there was ‘no major depression or other mood disorder which affected her thinking’. A final GP’s report approved the ‘termination of life’ order and the woman was killed by an injection of lethal drugs, the report said.
In Britain yesterday her case was condemned as ‘horrendous’ by Labour MP Robert Flello.
He said: ‘It almost sends the message that if you are the victim of abuse, and as a result you get a mental illness, you are punished by being killed, that the punishment for the crime of being a victim is death.
‘It serves to reinforce why any move towards legalising assisted suicide, or assisted dying, is so dangerous.’
Tory MP Fiona Bruce, chairman of the Parliamentary All-Party Pro-Life Group, said: ‘This tragic situation shows why euthanasia should never be legalised in this country. What this woman needed, at a desperate point in her young life, was help and support to overcome her problems, not the option of euthanasia.’
Nikki Kenward, of the disability rights group Distant Voices, said: ‘It is both horrifying and worrying that mental health professionals could regard euthanasia in any form as an answer to the complex and deep wounds that result from sexual abuse.’
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