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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Dutch girl hangs herself: euthanasia proponents upset she wasn’t killed in a doctor’s office

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

September 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A Dutch family has decided to file a complaint against a general practitioner who refused to euthanize a girl aged 19, who was suffering from lupus since she was twelve.

Milou de Moor was to have obtained euthanasia last spring. Instead, in "panic" when she learned of her doctor's refusal, she hanged herself on a tree in the orchard on the farm where she lived with her father, mother, and twin sister, near the southern border of the Netherlands. Now the Dutch press and social media are praising her courage and condemning her doctor's "insensitivity" and "horridness."

That a doctor should have qualms about killing a 19-year-old who was not in a terminal condition does not appear to carry any weight with the media. Conscientious objection is less and less of an issue.

Milou de Moor fell ill when she was twelve. Her autoimmune condition affected her brain, causing her to look outwardly normal and well but be prone to sudden mood swings and bouts of anger, forgetfulness, and difficulty expressing herself, as well as frequent blackouts and nerve pain. Her illness was hard to bear, and it was getting worse. She decided that she did not want to go on living if she was no longer conscious.

Milou had a general practitioner in the Netherlands but received specialized care at the university hospital in Ghent, just across the Belgian border. Both countries allow minors to obtain euthanasia. Milou received a declaration in support for her request from a Dutch euthanasia association. The declaration was produced three years ago in the Belgian hospital, whose Ethics Committee immediately assessed the situation and remained informed about the progress of the young girl's illness. The Dutch doctor, a woman, was also informed.

In the Netherlands, euthanasia is "normally" carried out by the family doctor. In Milou's case, her neurologist was to perform the lethal act. When the time came, however, the general practitioner called the Ethics committee, which had just given its final consent. She said in the clearest of terms that she did not agree, and the neurologist was uneasy about going ahead, even though the general practitioner's consent was not required.

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The university hospital's staff was angry about the doctor's refusal and suggested that the de Moors would surely win if they took the affair to court. Milou decided she had no time to wait. Her attacks were getting worse, and she was afraid to "stay" in one of them and not to be able to give her consent to euthanasia.

The hospital tried to put pressure on the family doctor but she remained hesitant "because she did not know the girl well," say her parents, who accuse the physician of having "stabbed them in the back." When, after having wavered for some time, she decided to oppose the euthanasia, and the hospital decided not to carry on with the procedure, Milou was "courageous and combative" but evidently beside herself. She told her mother she wanted to go and smell the apple blossoms "alone." They found her hanging from a tree.

"The bitter part is that the euthanasia had been approved. It was just a question of fixing the date when Milou would say goodbye," says her mother. They had not foreseen the family doctor's refusal, the more so because she was not taking care of the girl, although she did know her and would visit at the farm, where the question of euthanasia was "repeatedly" raised. "Apparently she never thought it would really happen," say the de Moors.

Now that their daughter is dead, they want to act so that such a tragedy will not happen again, they say: "We don't want the doctor to get away with it." Having obtained advice from a medical counselor, they have decided to petition the Medical Regulatory Board, which will decide whether they can open proceedings against  the doctor.

The university hospital of Ghent has also decided to act privately against the doctor: "We owe this to Milou. She was hounded into death."

The practitioner herself refused to comment on the affair, on the basis of doctor-patient confidentiality.

With due proportion, the logic of the de Moor case is not unlike the arguments for abortion, where illegal abortions are presented as undesirable, unjust, dangerous, and messy. Legal euthanasia, the story goes, is "necessary" to avoid the trauma, the uncertainty, the violence, and, yes, the messiness of suicide.

In the Netherlands, allowing psychiatric patients to be euthanized is usually justified in the liberal media on the grounds that without it, those who request it would throw themselves in front of a train – which would be messy, and disruptive.

If the de Moors win their case, doctors in the Netherlands are set to lose their legal freedom of judgment in the face of a euthanasia request – a new step towards euthanasia on demand.

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