02/10/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
Correspondents overwhelmingly supported Betty Rollin's decision to help her terminally ill mother commit suicide (PEOPLE, Jan. 20). Many recalled the painful deaths of their own loved ones and regretted their own helplessness at the time.
One of the mysteries of life is the powerful relationship between parent and child. Even parents who abuse their children find them faithful, forgiving and longing for approval. The story of Betty Rollin and her mother is one of the great love stories. Ida Rollin gave her daughter the gift of life, and Betty Rollin gave her the gift of death—with dignity. I only hope I can do the same or that the same will be done for me.
JANET JONES-PARKER, Greenwich, Conn.
Ida Rollin made a sound decision based on the circumstances of her illness and her own beliefs. The tragedy is that her daughter had to risk prosecution to see that her mother's last wish—to die on her own terms—was fulfilled. When are the fundamentalists going to quit trying to dictate what is morally correct for the rest of us? The right to self-determination by a competent adult facing terminal or irreversible illness should be a guaranteed civil right.
SHANDA MCGREW, Mokelumne Hill, Calif.
I am a hospice nurse. I try to help frantic families care for loved ones who are stricken with terminal illness. I came home this morning, after having been with a courageous woman who had cradled her young husband through his long death, to a picture of Betty Rollin triumphant on your cover. I tried not to judge Miss Rollin or her mother's decision, but I wonder, in this sad world where the easy way is the best way, why the true heroes like my long-suffering patient and his tired wife and children are left silent and unsung. I do not doubt Miss Rollin's kindness and her pain in the decision to help her mother, but I believe that no one bill God should help people die. We poor humans, with love and with humility, can only ease the journey.
CHRISTINE MACDOWELL, Wheaton, Ill.
There was a time I was adamantly against euthanasia or assisted suicide, but my mother's death last year brought full understanding of the need for them. After six years in a rest home, my mother was robbed by a stroke of her ability to swallow. While her death certificate lists heart failure as cause of death, in truth she died from dehydration, which took 10 days of suffering. Euthanasia would have made possible a kinder, gentler death. I am glad Betty Rollin had the wisdom and courage to grant her mother's last wish.
MARIE LAMAR. Winslow, Ariz.
The thing that horrifies me most about the murder of Tina Isa by her parents is that other people knew she was being abused and threatened and no one tried to help her. If they had, she might still be alive today. Why didn't the FBI, who surely must have heard of the way she was being treated by her parents, notify local authorities to have her parents arrested and Tina taken out of the house? Why didn't her friends, who saw her welts and bruises, tell anyone who could have helped?
TRACY ARNONE, Plainville, Conn.
As an Arab-American I can only condemn Zein Isa's act of murder. This sort of behavior is indeed aberrant and was certainly uncalled for. However, due to cultural differences, the amount of freedom teenagers may experience varies. This society is deteriorating because our children are given too much freedom. This unfortunate ordeal is not to be blamed on the insane Zein Isa alone but also on the sad society we live in.
GHADA DAHIR, Charlotte, N.C.
Ever since you published a photo of Jay McInerney with my wife, whom you identified as his new wife, I've been inundated with calls asking if Suzanne has (a) left me, (b) changed her name or (c) married Jay. So, if I pose with the real, new Mrs. Mclnerney, will PEOPLE feature us?
PETER MAAS, New York City
It's a tempting offer, but we have chosen instead to run a photo of Helen Bransford McInerney with her husband, Jay (below). We apologize to all concerned.—ED