Since the emergence of COVID-19 vaccines, pro-life leaders, including organizations such as Live Action and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have been outspoken about ethical concerns over the use of material from an aborted child.
Dating back to the 1960s, fetal cell lines have been used in multiple stages of vaccine development. There are two methods in which fetal cell lines are used in vaccines, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. One, those that do not use abortion-derived cell lines in the manufacturing process but used an aborted fetal cell line at one point in development, such as confirmatory testing (e.g., Pfizer–BioNtech); and two, those that use abortion-derived cell lines in more than one phase of development and, in particular, the manufacturing process.
Live Action reports that “There are multiple aborted fetal cell lines currently in use, and each one can be traced back to a preborn baby.” For instance, NPR reports that the fetal cell lines used in the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trace back to a child aborted in 1985. “…not the fetal cells themselves, but a line that was reproduced from those cells.” In other vaccines, such as those produced by Moderna and Pfizer, the use of fetal cell lines is less direct. “… cells from human fetuses can be used kind of like little factories to develop viruses that then become a part of a vaccine. They can also be used during the testing process to determine the efficacy of a vaccine. In the case of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, that’s the only way fetal cells were used.”
In its COVID-19 vaccine statement, Live Action condemns the administration of any vaccine using the material, “because these cell lines were created by violating the fundamental human rights of a preborn victim. Political leaders and lawmakers around the world must take immediate steps to disincentivize the scientific community and pharmaceutical companies from using these cell lines in any stage of research and development and, when possible, impose legal sanctions.”
In contrast, some allegedly pro-life leaders, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, acknowledge the ethical concerns, however, they do not oppose the distribution of the vaccine. “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that ‘when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.’” Although, they state that the vaccine with the least direct use should be administered.
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ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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