Why is it that, when a horse breaks its leg, we have no problem putting that horse to sleep? But when a person has terminal cancer, we force that person to put up with more pain and suffering that any human being should endure? Is something wrong here? Sounds like it to me.

Recently the papers have been filled with stories of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a physician who assisted a women to commit suicide. The woman Elaine Adkins was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. The disease is incurable and is both debilitating and terminal. The good doctor, only after meeting with Elaine Adkins and determining that she was of sound mind, had the goodness in his heart to provide a quick and painless way out for her.

Was the doctor wrong for helping to ease this woman's pain and suffering in a way that she found acceptable? A lot of people out there are going to answer that question yes. Ask those same people whether or not it is humane to put a terminally ill house pet to sleep: I bet they would say it was. The dog doesn't even have a say in the matter.

I find it perverse even to think that we would prefer to watch a person die in pain and agony than in peace, with dignity.

I'm not trying to say that the next time I go out and break my leg, take me out and shoot me. But if I end up with cancer, Alzheimer's, AIDS or any number of other incurable diseases, let me at least have some say in how I want to die. If I decide it would be staunch and brave of me to tough it out, so be it. If I decide that I would rather die quickly and painlessly, that should be my right also. JOSEPH ROSS Falls Church