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updated 07/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Our readers were divided on the difficult issue of Janet Adkins's choice of death over life (PEOPLE, June 29), but a majority supported both her decision and her right to make it. Several who wrote had especially strong feelings on the question, having witnessed the lingering deaths of loved ones themselves.

GLORIA ESTEFAN
It was a pleasure seeing Gloria Estefan on your cover. She is not only a dynamic performer, but she has an admirable husband. As a Cuban-American, I am sure I speak for all the rest when I say that she is an inspiration as well as a source of great pride to us. Our prayers were not in vain. Arriba Gloria!
Elisa Aguilera
Bridgeport, Conn.

Last November, at age 14, I had a two-rod spinal fusion due to severe scoliosis. I truly admire and am encouraged by Gloria Estefan's positive attitude and determination. I know from experience that a full recovery seems to take forever and is extremely frustrating, but I wish her much luck and patience.
Alisoun C. Davis
Newville, Pa.

JUAN CAMACHO
When I read your article about Juan Camacho, I became sick to my stomach. This clearly demonstrates how far the human race has fallen. I cannot imagine seeing someone obviously in distress, for four days, and not doing anything about it. Granted, people cannot always stop on the road for safety's sake, but God bless the person who called the police. I just hope that whoever hit Juan Camacho feels some sort of remorse. God protect anyone else who needs help in southern California!
Karen B. Smith
Dallas, Ga.

JANET ADKINS
Dr. Jack Kevorkian's efforts in making death-by-choice easier should be encouraged, not condemned. Janet Adkins's choice was a difficult one for herself and her family. But she had the right to make that decision, as we all should. I'm angered to think that we must be forced to live life in a manner we would find dehumanizing and without dignity.
Nancy Atkins
Portland, Ore.

I have to respect people who can make the decision Janet Adkins did. Life and death issues are plagued with extremists. What these people lack is respect for the personal choice made by a human being faced with a life-altering situation. Those opposed to abortions and euthanasia do not seem to value the quality of life as much as life itself.
Nuria Hawkins Kudlach
Indian Head, Md.

Maybe the medical world really takes the hypocritical oath instead of the Hippocratic oath. If we allow pro-choice in the decision of the unborn, shouldn't we also allow pro-choice for those old enough to choose?
Sheryl Mathews
Auburn, Maine

I took care of my father 24 hours a day for nine weeks before he died of cancer in January 1987. I had visited him in California the previous summer, when his health was just beginning to deteriorate. At that time he hinted that he would do away with himself before he became incapacitated. I made him promise that if it was within his control I would be able to see him again. In hindsight, I wish I had not. It was devastating to see a brilliant intellectual lose all his faculties, disintegrate by inches and suffer uncontrollable pain. The worst of it was that he was aware of everything he lost as it happened. Even now, when I think of him, all I can visualize is the horror of those few months. Awful as it is, there's a lot to be said for a good, clean heart attack.
Name Withheld

The act of suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do. My parents decided that a 12-gauge shotgun was their ticket out of a life that had become increasingly out of control. They left behind no lesson of courage, dignity or faith in themselves, a higher power or their fellow man. Are we being taught, by example, that life is meant to be lived only when it is pleasant, cozy and warm? Increasingly, our children are dying at their own hands. Apparently it's a lesson being learned well.
Cathy E. Armitage
Highland, Calif.

When my hemophiliac son was diagnosed with AIDS at age 22, he asked one thing of me: that I understand and accept it if he ever made the decision to commit suicide. Finally, I agreed, and he seemed to be greatly relieved. And yet my son did not take his own life. Why? Because even in the depths of the worst pain that I have ever witnessed, he always hoped that tomorrow would be better. And sometimes tomorrow was better. We rejoiced in his ability to laugh with his friends and savor a sunset. He loved driving his car and playing with his computer. He even fell in love. When I remember my son now, I don't think of his death at 24. I remember him telling me a funny story, smiling at his girlfriend, resting his cheek against my head when I hugged him. And I'm glad he never cheated himself, or those who loved him, out of a single day.
Name Withheld

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