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Living Wills and Assisted Death

During this COVID-19 pandemic, many people are wondering “what if?”.  Now might be a good time to think about what’s really important in terms of a living will or euthanasia.  Many people have asked me for a copy of what I’ve written to use as a model, and I’m happy to share. 

Living Wills:

First of all lets see what it means:

A Living Will is not the same as a Will and Testament.  A living will is a document which expresses what you want to happen regarding medical treatment while you are still alive.  It typically explains whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill and will die shortly without life support, or fall into a persistent vegetative state. It also addresses other important questions, detailing your preferences for tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication in certain situations.

It only becomes effective when you aren’t able to communicate your desires on your own, so it’s important to put it in writing and have the discussion, so there can be no confusion for family members who have to made difficult decisions in a moment of crisis and high stress.  Without it, doctors or hospitals may decide they are legally obligated to perform certain procedures that you would not desire.

You may also have heard the term “DNR” (Do not resuscitate): This is an order on your medical chart advising health professionals that extraordinary measures should not be used to attempt to save your life.

With regards to a living will, here’s what the Bahá’í Writings have to say:

As to the Bahá’í viewpoint on the removal of withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patients.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

Here’s how I’ve worded mine:

Ongoing Care

Decisions about the kind of care I am to receive are to be made in accordance with the following requests.  I wish to have maximum independence.

    • I wish to continue my life as an active Bahá’í. At a minimum, this includes assistance in:
    • saying the daily obligatory prayer (short one at noon is fine), with ablutions and facing east;
    • reciting prayers (I like to say a minimum of three, including a prayer for teaching or triumph of the Cause) and reading the Bahá’í Writings morning and evening (including a short discussion of the applicability of these teachings to daily life if I am capable of such thought);
    • regular sacrificial donations to the funds of the Faith every 19 days and the payment of Huququllah each year (I have been submitting it monthly it should be up to date.
    • regular attendance at 19 Day Feasts and Holy Day Celebrations;

All of these things are to be done regardless of whether or not I appear to be getting anything out of them. My soul will benefit if nothing else.

    • My preference is for naturopathic or homeopathic medicine, using herbs instead of drugs, wherever possible.
    • If I am bedridden for any length of time, please use the sheepskin currently on my bed (and my own sheets if possible).

No heroic Measures

In the case of life threatening situations, I wish to have no heroic measures whatsoever.

I do not wish any life-support treatment which includes medical devices put in me to help prolong my life or anything else meant to keep me alive.

If I have permanent and severe brain damage, and I am not expected to get better, and life-support treatment would only delay the moment of my death I do not want life-support treatment. If it has been started, I want it stopped.

If I am in a coma from which I am not expected to wake up or recover, and I have brain damage, and life-support treatment would only delay the moment of my death I do not want life-support treatment. If it has been started, I want it stopped.

If I am unable to take care of myself, mentally or physically, and life-support treatment will not help me recover I do not want life-support treatment. If it has been started, I want it stopped.

I want to be offered food and fluids by mouth, and kept clean and warm at all times.

I want such pain medication as necessary to make me comfortable. 

Near Death

When I am near death, I would like Bahá’í prayers and readings read aloud and/or calm, peaceful, spiritual music played until I am dead.

I wish for Bahá’ís (the Local Spiritual Assembly and/or others) to be informed of my condition and asked to pray for me and to visit me.  If possible, please notify people on my 2 Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts and ask them for prayers; and contact the House of Justice at secretariat at bwc.org; and ask them to put me on the prayer list, praying specifically for steadfastness up to the hour of my death.

I wish to be cared for with kindness and cheerfulness, and not sadness. I am eagerly anticipating my life in the next world.

I want to die at home or in hospice and my body to be prepared according to Bahá’í procedures by Bahá’ís who are able to do so.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia is the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.  You may have also heard it referred to as “mercy killings” or “assisted suicide” or “assisted death” or “right to die”.

With regards to euthanasia, here’s what the Bahá’í Writings have to say:

As to the Bahá’í viewpoint on the removal of withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patients.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

We have received your letter of March 18, 1974 in which you ask for the Bahá’í viewpoint on euthanasia and on the removal of life support in medical cases where physiological interventions prolong life in disabling illnesses. In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best, and we have found nothing in the Sacred Text on these matters specifically but in a letter to an individual written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary regarding mercy killings, or legalized euthanasia, it is stated: “…this is also a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to legislate.” Until such time as the Universal House of Justice considers legislation on Euthanasia, decisions in the matters to which you refer must be left to the conscience of those responsible.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290-291)

So even though suicide is forbidden in the Faith, until such time as the House of Justice considers legislation on these matters, living wills and euthanasia are left to individual conscience.

As the legalities of both situations vary from place to place, it’s best to consult a lawyer to set these things in motion if that’s your wish.

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Physical Treatments for Disease

 

This is part eight of an eleven part series on the Baha’i Perspective on Disease.   In Part 1,  we looked at how I got interested in this topic and looked at some quotes on prevention of disease.  In Part 2, we looked at the reasons for disease.  In Part 3, we looked at the physical cause of disease, in Part 4 we looked at the spiritual causes, in Part 5 we looked at the effects of disease, in Part 6 we looked at the attitudes we want to strive for, when we are diseased, in Part 7 we looked at the spiritual treatments for disease.

Use of Doctors:

In the Bahá’í Teachings it is made quite clear that when one is ill, one should seek the best available medical advice. This naturally leaves a person free to choose what they consider good in medical opinion.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

According to the explicit decree of Bahá’u’lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 155)

It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor’s instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 155)

It is possible for a man to hold to a book of medicine and say, “I have no need of a doctor; I will act according to the book; in it every disease is named, all symptoms are explained, the diagnosis of each ailment is completely written out, and a prescription for each malady is furnished; therefore, why do I need a doctor?” This is sheer ignorance. A physician is needed to prescribe. Through his skill the principles of the book are correctly and effectively applied until the patient is restored to health.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 248)

Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary, but leave it off when health has been restored.   (Bahá’u’lláh: Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 1980 ed.,p. 106)

Even doctors need to consult doctors:

According to the explicit decree of Bahá’u’lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you would maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Seek the best doctors you can find:

…thou hast written about thy poor sight. According to the explicit divine text the sick must refer to the doctor. This decree is decisive and everyone bound to observe it. While thou art there thou shouldst consult the most skilled and the most famed eye specialist.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Get a second opinion:

Before having any serious operation, you should consult more than one qualified physician.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 291)

Use doctors and know that healing comes from God:

It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor’s instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

One must obey the command of God and submit to medical opinion. Thou hast undertaken this journey to comply with His command and not for the sake of healing, since healing is in the hand of God, not in the hand of doctors.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Bahá’u’lláh tells us that in case of disease we should pray but at the same time refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions. Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to find whether your some has really become ill, and if he is, then follow the directions of the doctor. Being versed in the medical sciences they can treat better than even a loving mother can. You can render your assistance by praying for him and at the same time helping the physicians to treat him.         (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 286)

Diet and Foods:

Treat disease through diet, by preference.  (Bahá’u’lláh: Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 1980 ed.,p. 106)

The science of medicine is still in a condition of infancy; it has not reached maturity. But when it has reached this point, cures will be performed by things which are not repulsive to the smell and taste of man — that is to say, by aliments, fruits and vegetables which are agreeable to the taste and have an agreeable smell. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 256)

The Báb hath said that the people of Baha must develop the  science of medicine to such a high degree that they will heal illnesses by means of foods.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 152)

It is the function of a skilled physician to determine which constituent of his patient’s body hath suffered diminution, which hath been augmented. Once he hath discovered this, he must prescribe a food containing the diminished element in considerable amounts, to re-establish the body’s essential equilibrium. The patient, once his constitution is again in balance, will be rid of his disease.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 152)

The proof of this is that while other animals have never studied medical science, nor carried on researches into diseases or medicines, treatments or cures — even so, when one of them falleth a prey to sickness, nature leadeth it, in fields or desert places, to the very plant which, once eaten, will rid the animal of its disease. The explanation is that if, as an example, the sugar component in the animal’s body hath decreased, according to a natural law the animal hankereth after a herb that is rich in sugar. Then, by a natural urge, which is the appetite, among a thousand different varieties of plants across the field, the animal will discover and consume that herb which containeth a sugar component in large amounts. Thus the essential balance of the substances composing its body is re-established, and the animal is rid of its disease.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 152)

It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, ailments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, ailments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature  (Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1982 ed., 257-259)

Drugs:

Refrain from the use of drugs . . . Abstain from drugs when health is good, but administer them when necessary.  (Bahá’u’lláh: Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 1980 ed.,p. 106)

Many of us rely on prescription medications with a long list of side effects.  This can’t be good for us:

If a remedy is the cause of disease it would be better to do without the remedy.  (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 349)

Any remedy that causes disease does not come from the great and supreme Physician.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 130)

If the remedy bring on disease, then put it aside.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 248)

Now, is it possible that man’s sense of smell, the sense that differentiates odours, should find some odour repugnant, and that odour be beneficial to the human body? Absurd! Impossible! . . . Again, if the sense of taste, likewise a faculty that selecteth and rejecteth, be offended by something, that thing is certainly not beneficial; and if, at the outset, it may yield some advantage, in the long run its harmfulness will be established.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 152)

The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal, but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the wilderness, the animal’s physician is the power of taste and smell. The sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 257)

Herbs

. . . if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compounded medicament… (Bahá’u’lláh: Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 1980 ed.,p. 106)

Homeopathy:

One of the friends of Persia wrote to Shoghi Effendi and asked this question: “Is it true that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said that biochemical homeopathy, which is a form of food medicine, is in conformity with the Bahá’í medical concept?” The beloved Guardian’s reply to this question in a letter dated 25th November, 1944 was as follows: “This statement is true, and the truth thereof will be revealed in the future.”  The Universal House of Justice has also asked us to inform you that it does not wish the above statement to be circulated in isolation from the many and varied other texts in the Writings on medicine. However, you may share it with any of your friends who are interested.  (Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 485)

Chiropractic:

There is nothing in the Teachings about chiropractic as a method of healing. People are free to turn to it if they pleas and find help through it.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

Magnets:

The other kind of healing without medicine is through the magnetic force which acts from one body on another and becomes the cause of cure. This force also has only a slight effect.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 254)

Laying on of hands:

Sometimes one can benefit a sick person by placing one’s hand upon his head or upon his heart. Why? Because of the effect of the magnetism, and of the mental impression made upon the sick person, which causes the disease to vanish. But this effect is also very slight and weak.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 254)

He who is filled with love of Bahá, and forgets all things, the Holy Spirit will be heard from his lips and the spirit of life will fill his heart. … Words will issue from his lips in strands of pearls, and all sickness and disease will be healed by the laying on of the hands.  (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 112)

Strong Constitution:

A strong constitution often overcomes disease.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 255)

Rest:

. . . rest the body in order to do better.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 384)

Thank God I see you spiritual and at rest.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 48)

You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer meditation, but for real rest and relaxation. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 297)

Suspend all other activities so you can focus on getting well:

Now your father has taken you to the best nerve specialists in…, and they all recommend that you should suspend all your activities until you are fully recovered. It is now your duty as a Bahá’í, and specially as a young believer who has still great services to render the Faith, to make every effort to recovery your health, and to be confident that by making such an effort you will be attracting the confirmations of Bahá’u’lláh, without which no true and lasting healing is possible.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 291)

Sleep

There are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours.           (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 291)

Education:

A number of development projects have also shown that people’s lives can be altered substantially by appropriate messages through the mass media, reinforce with practical activities. This is being achieved, for example, in the field of health, where communication programmes alter people’s fundamental attitudes towards diarrhoeal diseases. In some instances, people are persuaded to behave in ways opposite to their accustomed behavior (e.g., to feed children instead of withholding food during a diarrhoeal episode).  (Baha’i International Community, 1988 Mar 17, Rural Women)

As a means of service:

You should always bear in mind Bahá’u’lláh’s counsel that we should take the utmost care of our health, surely not because it is an end in itself, but as a necessary means of serving His Cause.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 291)

Euthanasia and Living Wills:

We have received your letter of March 18, 1974 in which you ask for the Bahá’í viewpoint on euthanasia and on the removal of life support in medical cases where physiological interventions prolong life in disabling illnesses. In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best, and we have found nothing in the Sacred Text on these matters specifically but in a letter to an individual written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary regarding mercy killings, or legalized euthanasia, it is stated:  “…this is also a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to legislate.”  “Until such time as the Universal House of Justice considers legislation on Euthanasia, decisions in the matters to which you refer must be left to the conscience of those responsible            (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

As to the Bahá’í viewpoint on the removal of withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patients.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

The Universal House of Justice has found nothing in the Sacred Text about the matter of with-holding or removing life support in disabling or terminal illnesses where intervention prolongs life. Therefore, until such time as the House of justice considers legislation on these matters, it is left to the conscience of the individual concerned whether or not to subscribe to a “living will”.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

For more in this series:

Part 1: Intro to Disease

Part 2:  Reasons for Disease

Part 3:  Physical Causes of Disease

Part 4:  Spiritual Causes of Disease

Part 5:  Effects of Disease

Part 6:  Attitudes towards Disease

Part 7:  Spiritual Treatment for Disease

Part 8:  Physical Treatment for Disease

Part 9:  Why People Aren’t Getting Better

Part 10:  Advice to Doctors

Part 11:  Prayers for Health

Advice to Doctors

This is part ten of an eleven part series on the Baha’i Perspective on Disease.   In Part 1,  we looked at how I got interested in this topic and looked at some quotes on prevention of disease.  In Part 2, we looked at the reasons for disease.  In Part 3, we looked at the physical cause of disease, in Part 4 we looked at the spiritual causes, in Part 5 we looked at the effects of disease, in Part 6 we looked at the attitudes we want to strive for, when we are diseased, in Part 7 we looked at the spiritual treatments for disease,  in Part 8 we looked at the physical treatments for disease, in Part 9 we looked  at why people aren’t getting better, and in this part we look at advice given to doctors.

Study medicine:

Thou shouldst endeavour to study the science of medicine. It is extremely useful and serveth as the greatest instrument for the dissemination of the Cause. It is absolutely imperative that thou acquire this bounty. Strive day and night that thou mayest become highly qualified in this science.

And research:

These investigations you have so painstakingly pursued in the field of medical science, and on a subject which is still puzzling the minds of all the leading scientists in the world, cannot but be of a captivating interest and of a great value to all medical research workers.  It is significant that you as a believer should have undertaken a work of this nature, as we all know that the powers released by the Manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh in this day are destined, in the course of time, to reveal themselves through the instrumentality of His followers, and in every conceivable field of human endeavour.  That you should increasingly prove, through your confirmed researches in the domain of medicine, to be one of those instruments, is the fervent hope of our beloved Guardian.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)

Turn to God and ask for Help:

And when thou wishest to dispense treatment set thy heart toward the Abha Kingdom, entreating Divine confirmations.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

When giving medical treatment turn to the Blessed Beauty then follow the dictates of thy heart . . . Indeed, such a heavenly breath quickeneth every mouldering bone and reviveth the spirit of every sick and ailing one.     (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Give God the credit:

Well is it with the physician who cureth ailments in My hallowed and dearly cherished Name.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

Diagnose then prescribe:

First diagnose the disease and identify the malady, then prescribe the remedy, for such is the perfect method of the skilful physician.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 269)

Know the spiritual causes as well as the physical:

Say to [Dr.] . . . . that “he studied physical medicine and he cured physical diseases. I beg of God that he may become a spiritual physician and heal the sickness of the ignorant ones.”  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 507)

Know the patient as well as disease and remedies:

Consequently, the doctor must be aware of, and know, all the members and parts, as well as the constitution and state of the patient, so that he can prescribe a medicine which will be beneficial against the violent poison of the disease. In reality the doctor deduces from the disease itself the treatment which is suited to the patient, for he diagnoses the malady, and afterward prescribes the remedy for the illness. Until the malady be discovered, how can the remedy and treatment be prescribed? The doctor then must have a thorough knowledge of the constitution, members, organs and state  of the patient, and be acquainted with all diseases and all remedies, in order to prescribe a fitting medicine.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 158)

Know the different remedies and medicines:

The skillful physician does not give the same medicine to cure each disease and each malady, but he changes remedies and medicines according to the different necessities of the diseases and constitutions. One person may have a severe illness caused by fever, and the skilled doctor will give him cooling remedies; and when at some other time the condition of this person has changed, and fever is replaced by chills, without doubt the skilled doctor will discard cooling medicine and permit the use of heating drugs. This change and alteration is required by the condition of the patient and is an evident proof of the skill of the physician.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 94)

Treat with foods:

When highly-skilled physicians shall fully examine this matter, thoroughly and perseveringly, it will be clearly seen that the incursion of disease is due to a disturbance in the relative amounts of the body’s component substances, and that treatment consisteth in adjusting these relative amounts, and that this can be apprehended and made possible by means of foods. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 154-155)

It is certain that in this wonderful new age the development of medical science will lead to the doctors’ healing their patients with foods . . .  Observe how an animal will graze in a field where there are a hundred thousand kinds of herbs and grasses, and how, with its sense of smell, it snuffeth up the odours of the plants, and tasteth them with its sense of taste; then it consumeth whatever herb is pleasurable to these senses, and benefiteth therefrom. Were it not for this power of selectivity, the animals would all be dead in a single day; for there are a great many poisonous plants, and animals know nothing of the pharmacopoeia. And yet, observe what a reliable set of scales they have, by means of which to differentiate the good from the injurious. Whatever constituent of their body hath decreased, they can rehabilitate by seeking out and consuming some plant that hath an abundant store of that diminished element; and thus the equilibrium of their bodily components is re-established, and they are rid of their disease.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 155-156)

At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 156)

Use spiritual and material forms of healing:

O thou distinguished physician!…Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related  to man’s spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments      (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Remedy the sick by means of heavenly joy and spiritual exultation cure the sorely afflicted by imparting to them blissful glad tidings and heal the wounded through His resplendent bestowals. When at the bedside of a patient, cheer and gladden his heart and enrapture his spirit through celestial power. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 285)

Circumcision:

The beloved Guardian says that the question of circumcision has nothing to do with the Bahá’í Teachings; and the believers are free to do as they please in the matter.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

Euthanasia, birth control and abortion:

We are impressed by the spirit of your letter of 15 Sultan seeking guidance concerning certain aspects of the medical profession. Your desire to avoid doing anything in your study of medicine which would be contrary to the Bahá’í Teachings is most commendable.  As you have keenly observed, the Universal House of Justice may consider it untimely to make definitive rulings on certain matters to which no direct reference can be found in the Sacred Text. Among these are euthanasia and certain aspects of birth control and abortion, and until such time as rulings are made, these matters are left to the consciences of those concerned who must weigh the medical advice on the case in the light of general guidance given in the Teachings. Your National Spiritual Assembly has specific references regarding birth control and abortion which might be useful to you.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

Organ Transplants:

We have not come across anything specific in the writings on transplants of hearts and other organs or regarding the time of death, and the Universal House of Justice does not wish to make any statements on these points at this time.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 289)

There is nothing in the teachings which would forbid a Bahá’í to bequeath his eyes to another person or for a hospital; on the contrary it seems a noble thing to do.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

Dissection:

When dissecting a human body for the purposes of medical study, should keep in mind that since the body was once the temple of the spirit it must be treated with respect even though there is no further connection between the two.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 290)

Avoid commissions:

The Guardian feels that your attitude towards the corrupt practice of accepting commissions from fellow physicians and pharmacists is most admirable. The more upright and noble the Bahá’ís are in their conduct, the more they will impress the public with the spiritual vitality of the Faith they believe in.  (Shoghi Effendi,, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)

Ethical Conduct:

Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger. A physician of evil character, and who betrayeth his trust, can bring on death, and become the source of numerous infirmities and diseases.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Scholarship, p. 21)

Bahá’í Holy Days:

He thinks it is better for Bahá’í doctors not to work on our 9 Holy Days — but, of course, that does not mean they should not attend to very sick people and emergencies on these days.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 287)

For more in this series:

Part 1: Intro to Disease

Part 2:  Reasons for Disease

Part 3:  Physical Causes of Disease

Part 4:  Spiritual Causes of Disease

Part 5:  Effects of Disease

Part 6:  Attitudes towards Disease

Part 7:  Spiritual Treatment for Disease

Part 8:  Physical Treatment for Disease

Part 9:  Why People Aren’t Getting Better

Part 10:  Advice to Doctors

Part 11:  Prayers for Health