What is your faith's view on euthanasia?
Answer: The short answer to
today’s question is that euthanasia, or mercy killing, is left up to
the conscience of those responsible for making such a decision, i.e.,
doctors, immediate family, and, of course, the patient. Regarding the
question of providing life-support or its withdrawal, the wishes of the
patient are pre-eminent. Some Bahá’ís make a living will in which the
person may stipulate that life must not be prolonged by artificial
It would be collaterally instructive to discover how Bahá’ís arrive at
this guideline. In the Bahá’í Faith, the governance of personal conduct
is regulated by basically two things: revelation and legislation.
Revelation means that the basis for making any moral decision would
have to be found in the sacred writings of the Prophet-Founder
Bahá’u’lláh, (1817-1892), or in the authorized interpretations of those
writings. These interpretations could be legitimately made by only two
persons, who were Bahá’u’lláh’s successors: ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844-1921),
“the Centre of the Covenant,” his eldest son, and Shoghi Effendi
(1897-1957), “the Guardian,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s grandson.
Since 1963, any contemporary rulings governing the moral conscience of
the Bahá’í community are made through legislation enacted by the
Universal House of Justice, nine elected members of the community,
whose permanent seat is found at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa,
Israel. (Bahá’u’lláh had been banished to what is now Israel in the
days of the Ottoman Empire). The members of this body carefully
research and consult the sacred texts before making any ruling.
To put the matter differently, unity of doctrine and the orientation of
personal conduct are uniformly maintained in this manner, and not by
the judicial rulings of clerics — there is no clerical order in the
Bahá’í Faith — and consequently not through theological councils,
community debates, and so forth. In sum, the basis on which questions
of personal conduct are decided rests on the firm basis of scriptural
guidance, or through the legislation of the Universal House of Justice.
At this point, this body has decided not to issue any ruling on
euthanasia beyond the guidance already referred to above. -