Cancer tragedy - 'This is less complex than euthanasia'

It GOES without saying that some of the most difficult questions to answer are the ones that are a matter of life and death.

One is the debate surrounding Margo MacDonald's euthanasia bill and the whole row about whether or not it should be legal to help people end their lives.

Today's News report about the trauma that is tearing apart the family of Jeffrey Wright is another impossible dilemma.

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All the medical evidence suggests that Jeffrey, of Burdiehouse, will soon die of cancer and that this has been made all the more likely - and accelerated - because he has refused treatment offered by doctors.

His family, especially his brother Steven, has tried in vain to get him to change his mind, but Jeffrey says he has simply had enough after sapping bouts of chemotherapy when he was initially diagnosed with cancer.

This is a desperately sad family tragedy and anyone could empathise with Steven's wish that he could somehow force his brother to accept treatment.

In many ways, however, this is a less complex matter than assisted dying. Jeffrey is not seeking euthanasia - he simply says he cannot face more gruelling chemotherapy, even if there is a chance that it may extend his life.

If he is well enough to make a rational decision then he has the right to do what he wants with his life, including deciding not to take the chance to have it saved.

Fringe fees

FROM public toilets to a church confession box, the weird and wonderful venues pressed into service for the Fringe are a big part of it's anarchic appeal.

So a warning that red tape costs are making it harder to turn ordinary places, including a double decker bus this year, into performance spaces has to be taken seriously.

The enterprising arts groups which make the Fringe tick deserve the city's support and shouldn't have to pay excessive licence fees.

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Yet we are regularly reminded that the estimated 75 million generated each year by the Fringe is one of the great benefits to Edinburgh of hosting it.

It is right, of course, that a fair share of that money goes towards the massive expense of running the Capital during the hectic month of August.

Striking the correct balance between these two demands is the trick the council must pull off when it rules on the issue tomorrow.

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