It was a story too horrible to be true: A 17-year-old victim of sexual assault had been euthanized in the Netherlands.
And indeed, it wasnt true. Noa Pothoven, a sufferer of anorexia and other mental illnesses, had previously sought euthanasia at a clinic without telling her parents — but she had been refused.
The teenager died at the weekend, several days after she began to refuse all fluids and foods. Her parents and doctors agreed not to force feed her or compel her into treatment against her will.
Was it euthanasia?
“No no no no, you cant speak of active euthanization,” said Paul Bolwerk, a journalist at local newspaper the Gelderlander who has followed Pothovens struggles with mental illness and spoken with her parents about their battles to find an effective treatment.
In the months since Pothovens visit to the euthanasia clinic, the increasingly desperate family sought to secure electroconvulsive therapy as a treatment, but this was not authorized for a minor, Bolwerk told POLITICO.
Dutch media did not report that Pothoven died of euthanasia. But the English-language reporting of the story did
“During the last months she had undertaken several attempts to commit suicide,” he said.
“She got depressed more and more, and said, Well, OK, now I press on the button. Now I say I will stop with all treatments. And that was very stressful for everyone, including the parents, the doctors, the psychiatrists,” he added. “So she stayed at home and decided not to eat and drink, and it was very hard to accept that for everyone.”
Pothoven had been repeatedly hospitalized for her mental illnesses, which she blamed on experiences of sexual assault recounted in her award-winning book “Winning or Learning.”
On Sunday, the Gelderlander reported she had died in a hospital bed set up in the living room of her familys home in Arnhem.
A lie that traveled around the world
Days before, she had published a post to the 10,000 followers of her Instagram account, announcing she would die.
“A sad last post,” Pothoven wrote in the post, which has since been made private.
“Ill get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die. After years of fighting and struggling it is over. I have stopped eating and drinking for a while now, and after many conversations and reviews it has been decided that I will be let go because my suffering is unbearable. It is finished. For so long I have not really been living, I have been surviving, and even that not really. I have not really been alive for so long, I am surviving, and even that not really. I breathe but I am no longer alive.”
Some stories explicitly made the false claim that Pothoven was given euthanasia by a clinic, leaping ahead of the facts based on her prior request for euthanasia and her Instagram post
Dutch media did not report that Pothoven died of euthanasia. But the English-language reporting of the story did, even as they cited Dutch news reports that did not speak of euthanasia.
The simple falsehood spread around the world at lightning speed, as news organizations copied and republished the story without stopping to check the facts.
Some stories explicitly made the false claim that Pothoven was given euthanasia by a clinic, leaping ahead of the facts based on her prior request for euthanasia and her Instagram post.
The headline on the website of the Daily Mail, one of the most popular English-language sites in the world, read “Dutch girl, 17, who was sexually abused at 11 and raped as a 14-year-old is legally euthanized at her home by end-of-life clinic.”
A report by Euronews read: “Originally the clinic said she was too young … But legally minors are eligible under certain circumstances. Pothoven wrote on Instagram last week that after many conversations and reviews it had been decided.”
The truth is clear: Pothoven sought euthanasia, and she was refused
The deeply shocking story on such a controversial issue was irresistible, and became a top newsRead More – Source