Voters in Colorado will decide in November whether to allow doctors to help terminally ill patients commit suicide.

Similar laws have already passed in California, Montana, Vermont and Washington, all modeled on a 20-year-old Oregon law.

The ballot measure before voters in Colrorado will require two physicians to agree that a person has six months or less to live, is over the age of 18 and is mentally competent. If these requirements are met, the patient may be given secobarbital and administer a fatal dose to themselves.

No objective third party is required to watch the patient end his or her own life to make sure it is done without coercion or help. Anyone present when the patient's life is ended would be immune from prosecution for failing to save the person's life or, in theory, if they were accused of coercing the patient to end his or her life or administering the drug to someone having second thoughts.

As we've previously argued, laws such as this corrupt the medical profession and put pressure on old and sick people to end their lives. In Oregon, a study found that a quarter of all people seeking assisted suicide had undiagnosed clinical depression. Treat the depression and perhaps they would not wish to kill themselves.

The experience of other countries is also instructive. One out of every 32 deaths in the Netherlands, 3 percent, is now from euthanasia. In Belgium, nearly half of the country's euthanasia nurses admit to ending a patient's life without consent.

Former advocates of assisted suicide in Europe increasingly regret the terrible step their societies took. Advocates of the Colorado law, and others, will argue that their safeguards are sufficient. But once a society sets off down this path, it seems to find itself going further than it at first planned.

Carrie Ann Lucas, who opposes the Colorado measure and has a neuromuscular disease that requires her to use a ventilator, said that someone like her would qualify for the life-ending prescription.

"I don't have six months to live without life support," she told the Denver Post. "I might not have six hours."

Supporters of the law point to stories like that of Brittany Maynard, a woman with a brain tumor who moved to Oregon so that she could end her life. Maynard's husband is now an advocate for laws that allow prescription-aided suicide.

Proponents refer to the choice to take one's life as "dying with dignity," but these laws do the opposite. They remove dignity from death, telling sick, elderly and disabled people that their lives are worth less than those of young and healthy people. Such suicide laws legislate the idea that those who are sick or infirm are an undue burden on family members and society.

We've all known someone who has had to face the catastrophe of a crippling accident or cancer diagnosis. It's easy to see how some people in such circumstances, who are truly suffering, may want to end their lives. But the answer is not for the state to encourage their feelings of worthlessness.

The answer is not to turn doctors into trained killers, in direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath (a pre-Christian ethos, by the way). The answer is to help people so afflicted feel valued and to see the good in the life that is left to them.

The assisted suicide laws being passed in states across the country have so few restrictions that many people who may actually have a chance at living beyond six months would likely end their lives.

Increasingly, our society is finding justifications for the strong to get rid of the weak. It made abortion a constitutional right two generations ago, and one often hears that ending a pregnancy is better than allowing a child to be born unwanted or into neglect and poverty. In other words, ending the life is said to be the humane option.

Now, again, with assisted suicide laws, states are putting their weight behind laws that nudge our grandparents, the sick and the severely injured toward the idea that lives like theirs are nullities. This is a profoundly inhumane thing to do.