Two of three ballot measures are health-care related

This November, voters also will have a chance to decide the fate of Initiative 1000, also known as the “Death with Dignity” act. The measure proposes to follow Oregon’s example of legal assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.

This initiative is hotly debated, with strong feelings on both sides.

“I support the Death with Dignity initiative,” said Gail Haskett, president of Northwest Health Care Inc. “It gives people who are suffering the right to choose and end their pain.”

From a business perspective, the I-1000 will save money, said Rep. Deb Wallace.

“A large proportion of the claims insurance companies receive are for end-of-life care,” she said. “These claims drive up the cost of insurance for everyone, including business.”

But Sen. Joe Zarelli, himself a businessman in Clark County (he is president of a business-development and risk management firm and managing director of a newly formed homeland defense training business), expressed outrage that anyone would “put a price on life.”

The focus should not be on ending life, but rather on finding new and better ways to comfort the ill and suffering, he said.

“I’m concerned about how I-1000 blurs the value of life,” Zarelli said. “It doesn’t send the right cultural message to our young people.”