Autistic Dutch woman in good physical health chooses assisted suicide at age 29 – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — A young Dutch woman recently ended her life through assisted suicide despite being in good physical health in one of a growing number of cases sparking concern over the slippery slope of euthanasia.

Zoraya ter Beek, 29, suffered from mental illness that included depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with autism at age 21. By 22, she started wearing a “Do Not Resuscitate” tag as a necklace.

She called autism the “major hiccup” of her life. “That bothers me the most,” she divulged to Rupa Subramanya of The Free Press.

Ter Beek had been estranged from her mother and three sisters for at least six years, and her father died last year of cancer after she had already decided she wanted to die. 

The young woman told The Free Press that she tried “everything” to alleviate her mental illness over a period of 10 years, including, finally, 33 rounds of electroshock therapy. According to Ter Beek, after her last treatment in August 2020, her psychiatrist told her, “There’s nothing more we can do for you. It’s never going to get any better.”

“After we heard that, we all kind of knew what that meant,” said Ter Beek, reportedly referring to her boyfriend, friends, and doctors. “I was always very clear: If it doesn’t get better, I can’t do this … My whole friends and my support system, we really did it together,” she added.

Ter Beek believes the Dutch government helps protect against abuses of its euthanasia system by requiring prior medical intervention and noted that it has been in place for more than 20 years. 

Critics of euthanasia, however, question whether anyone should have the ability to decide what kind of “quality of life” suffices to be able to commit medically assisted suicide.

Dr. Marc Siegel pointed out to Fox News on Saturday that “up to 40% of those who have requested assisted suicide are intellectually disabled or have autism.”

“You end up now with the question: Who decides who lives? Who decides who dies? How do you decide what intellectually impaired is? How do you decide what quality of life is? I cannot think of anything more disturbing than this,” Siegel said. 

He stressed the fact that as a physician his “role is to decrease suffering and prolong life. Not to end life.”

Ter Beek herself told The Free Press that her best friend committed suicide at age 16 by throwing herself in front of a train and that she questioned whether with proper help that friend might have decided to live instead.

Subramanya asked Ter Beek, “Couldn’t the same be said” of her own situation?

“That’s the beauty, because our law requires that doctors test that you’ve made a rational decision,” Zoraya replied. “Doctors have to test: Is my choice rational, or is it my illness talking?”

Irene Tuffrey-Wijne, a palliative care physician at Britain’s Kingston University who led a  study that examined 900 cases of assisted suicide, remarked, “There’s no doubt in my mind these people were suffering. But is society really OK with sending this message, that there’s no other way to help them and it’s just better to be dead?” 

Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, has said that “Helping people with autism and intellectual disabilities to die is essentially eugenics.” 

In the Netherlands, euthanasia is legal for those deemed to be experiencingunbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement.” Over 60,000 people in the country have died from assisted suicide between 2012 and 2021.

Ter Beek’s suicide follows the Netherlands’ disturbing expansion of legal euthanasia, with a law that came into effect on February 1 that allows the killing of terminally ill children ages 1-12 who are  deemed to be “suffering hopelessly and unbearably.” 

The law allows parents to decide to kill their child even if the child is unwilling or unable to consent. 

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