Connect with us
Medical Prohibitions of Major Religions
Friday, January 11, 2008


There are no medical prohibitions.


There are no medical prohibitions for most Buddhist traditions. Some traditions may have medical issues addressed in their precepts, such as the taking of drugs.

Eastern Rite Catholicism

There are no medical prohibitions.


There are no medical restrictions.


There are no medical restrictions, except when it entails the consumption of intoxicants such as any medication with an alcohol base. Medication which contains pork derivatives is also prohibited.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings promote a healthy lifestyle. Articles in Awake! magazine routinely discuss ways of maintaining mental and physical health. Generally they encourage adherents to have to have regular checkups and rely on modern medical techniques to treat illnesses, except when they consider certain techniques a violation of Biblical principles.       


Life begins at conception. Deliberately induced abortion is viewed as the willful taking of human life. (Exodus 21:22, 23)

Blood Transfusions

Jehovah’s Witnesses are commanded to “abstain from blood” based upon spiritual beliefs. Historically, their view has been to reject whole blood transfusions or any of the four major components of blood (red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets). Since the Bible makes no clear statement about the use of minor blood fractions or the immediate reinfusion of a patient’s own blood during surgery (a process known as blood salvaging), the use of such treatments is a matter of personal choice. Witnesses accept reliable non-blood alternatives, which are increasingly recognized in the medical field.


Generally, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no objection to vaccines. Some vaccines contain minor blood fractions; use of these is a matter of personal choice.

Organ Transplants

Agreeing to an organ transplant or organ donation is a personal decision.

Faith Healing

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in faith healing as commonly practiced today. Jesus and his apostles performed miraculous healing, but according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Bible (1 Corinthians 12:30; 13:8) states these were first-century phenomena, not an ongoing feature of Christianity.

Prolongation of Life

Jehovah’s Witnesses cite the Bible as not requiring extraordinary, complicated, or distressing measures to sustain a person if this would merely prolong the dying process. If advance directives are made by the patient, these should be respected.


A person must refrain from actions that cause illness and instead work hard on leading a healthy life. This means that excessive drinking, smoking, the abuse of drugs, and eating of harmful foods are forbidden. A Jew must aggressively pursue medical treatment when ill.


There are no medical prohibitions. Detainees may choose to participate in healing rituals in conjunction with their medical treatments (just as other traditions pray for healing), but the healing ritual must never take the place of professional medical treatment.

Orthodox Christianity

Orthodox Christians may not mutilate their body, including receiving tattoos.

Protestant Christianity

Most Protestant denominations adhere to the belief that God can and often does choose to bring about physical and emotional healing to individuals based on their faith or on the faith of others through prayer and spiritual intervention. Protestants generally accept the validity of God’s healing hand at work through gifts and skills which have been imparted to those within the medical professions.


There are no restrictions on medical treatment. Cosmetic surgery is forbidden (the first of the statements of the moral code above). Blood transfusions, even the use of birth control, are not permitted by some Rastafarians, as those practices are against nature and the natural (Ital) way of life.

Some Rastafarians may object to the TB screening by PPD (mantoux method) and request an x-ray instead. The first point, of the Moral Code states, “we strongly object to sharp implements used in the desecration of the figure of Man, e.g., trimming and shaving, tattooing of the skin, and cutting of the flesh.”

Roman Catholicism

Because Catholics believe that all people are created in the image of God and are temples or dwelling places of God’s Holy Spirit, their life is deemed sacred. Catholics are forbidden from participating in or facilitating abortions or the unjust taking of human life. Otherwise, there are no medical prohibitions.


There are no medical prohibitions.


All information in this section has been compiled from the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Technical Reference for Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices