Ethics of vaccinations using aborted fetal cells in development or production
If vaccines are created or produced using aborted fetal cells, do we as prolife advocates have a moral obligation to NOT use such vaccines? Certainly, a strong case can be made to answer with a resounding yes.If vaccines are currently being developed with the ongoing harvesting of fetal tissue to produce the vaccine, we cannot simultaneously defend the sanctity of life and use interventions created from the willful destruction of human life. Most of us would agree with that. The issue becomes murkier in the use of cell lines from 50-60 years ago derived from aborted fetal tissue.
The article cited in this section affirms that ongoing use of fetal tissue from aborted fetuses is common in the pharmaceutical industry and in medical research. We should all voice opposition to the ongoing harvesting of aborted fetal parts to be used in this way! The Planned Parenthood scandal of selling aborted baby parts shows how easily the abortion industry defies moral concerns and legal restraints.
But what of vaccines produced from cell lines of aborted fetuses from the 1960s? What about using cell lines derived from aborted baby tissue that would otherwise just be discarded instead for a good purpose as developing vaccines to save lives? This is indeed the case in most vaccines currently on the market, and some being developed to combat COVID-19. Does the same moral imperative prevail in that case?
As the author of the article below states, we must consider whether we can in good conscience support any intervention that is developed through any relationship to the brutal crime of abortion. If aborted babies are used in any part of the vaccine process directly or from long ago harvested cell lines, is it ethical for us to use that vaccine?
“ This presents a contradiction in the attitude of the [researcher] who says that he does not approve of the injustice perpetrated by others, but at the same time accepts for his own work the ‘biological material’ which the others have obtained by means of that injustice” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 2008, no. 35).”
The author of this article concludes:
“Each medical benefit or scientific advance from the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions desensitizes beneficiaries, scientists, and doctors to the original evil act that produced these cells. Aborted fetal tissues used in laboratories are minimized to merely human cells, and the human beings whose lives were taken to provide those cells become irrelevant and with time forgotten. Of greatest concern is that desensitization ultimately leads to scandal by erroneously validating elective abortions for a greater good. Without careful oversight, the fetus could become, like fetal tissue cell lines, merely cells, cultured within the uterus for scientific exploration. All people of good conscience have the responsibility to voice opposition to the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions in order to promote development of alternatives, affirm the value of all human life, and limit scandal.”
‘Double Effect’ Principle
Some Christian scientific organizations such as Creation Ministries International argue the opposite view point. In the article cited below, the author states that first it is important to understand the many misconceptions swirling about in Christian circles that are not based on science. For example, aborted baby parts are NOT used in any vaccine. Many vaccines do use the cell lines of aborted fetuses from decades ago, but no babies are being aborted today to make vaccines. The authors do contend it would be better to find ethically acceptable alternatives when possible. However, they also state unequivocally, many vaccines have saved countless lives and eradicated deadly diseases. They support the greater good of using vaccines, even those developed from the aborted fetal cell lines because the process is now so far removed from the original evil.
They give examples of an original evil leading to a greater good to support their point. For example, a drunk driver who should not be driving drunk, dies in a terrible car accident. He is an organ donor, and his organs are harvested to save lives. The evil is not condoned, but the good that comes of that evil is still utilized.
In this article, they also quote the article cited in the first section about the Principle of “Double Effect.” That is, if a contemplated action has both good and bad effects, then it is permissible only if it is not wrong in itself and if it does not require that one directly intend the bad result.
In other words, by producing the vaccine using the available cell lines derived from the aborted baby decades ago, the researcher did not intend the abortion, nor have any direct responsibility for the abortion. A significant good comes out of an original evil.
They make several summary points on vaccines:
*vaccines do more good than harm and counteract the effects of diseases we encounter as a result of the Fall
*vaccines train our immune system to be what God designed it to be
*any toxic elements in vaccines are either many times lower than a toxic dose or occur naturally in the body in greater amounts than in vaccines.
*vaccines cannot cause the disease since they are made with dead germs or the new mRNA technology
*We can still trust God and use the medical advances of people God has blessed to produce.
*use morally acceptable vaccines if available, but if not, vaccines derived from evil of abortion of two babies 40 years ago are still morally permissible for Christians.
But are vaccines made with aborted fetal cells?
Aborted fetal cells are not directly injected into vaccines as noted in the article just cited. Nonetheless, some erroneously believe this to be true and it is important to refute that misleading language. It IS true that many common vaccines were developed with the use of aborted fetal cell lines from two aborted babies from the 1960s and 80s. The vaccines are cultured on those cell lines which have been replicated in the laboratory. The cell lines are used in the production of the vaccine or sometimes in the testing of it. I have found MANY doctors are unaware of this, and also tell me they do not know off-hand of ethical alternative vaccines, if they exist.
We should educate ourselves about ethical vaccines which do not use aborted fetal cells in their development. Below is a list of common vaccines and how they are produced: (aborted fetal cells/any alternatives). For a complete list you can go to the article cited below this section.
Commonly used vaccines and their method of production
The vaccines for the following diseases are produced in a morally acceptable way, without using aborted fetal cell lines:
• pertussis (whopping cough)
• haemophilus influenza type B (HIB)
• hepatitis B
The following list concerns diseases for which vaccines have been produced using aborted fetal cell lines, and the existence or non-existence of alternative vaccines.
Disease Adenovirus type 4 and type 7
Chickenpox Hepatitis A
No trade name [Barr Labs] Produced using aborted fetal cell line No morally acceptable alternative currently available
Varivax [Merck] Produced using aborted fetal cell line No morally acceptable alternative currently available
Havrix [GlaxoSmithKline] Produced using aborted fetal cell line VAQTA [Merck] Produced using aborted fetal cell line
No morally acceptable alternative currently approved for use in the U.S.
Twinrix [GlaxoSmithKline] Contains Havrix (produced using aborted fetal cell line) and Engerix B (morally acceptable)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella
MMR II [Merck] Contains Attenuvax for measles (morally
acceptable), Mumpsvax (morally acceptable), and Meruvax for rubella (produced using aborted fetal cell line).
No morally acceptable combination is currently produced in the U.S. Attenuvax and Mumpsvax are no longer available alone,
Rabies Shingles Smallpox
Poliovax [Sanofi Pasteur] Produced using aborted fetal cell line Production has been discontinued.
IPOL [Sanofi Pasteur] Morally acceptable alternative
Morally acceptable combination vaccines:
Kinrix [GlaxoSmithKline] – diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio Pediarix [GlaxoSmithKline] – diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio
Imovax [Sanofi Pasteur]
Acambis 1000 [Acambis] Production discontinued?
What about morally acceptable COVID vaccines?
The three leading vaccines currently in a contest to be rolled out in the USA are Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech, and AstraZenica. AstraZenica uses aborted fetal cell lines in its production but the other two do not. In fact in a May publication by Charlotte Lozier Institute, those two were considered “ethically uncontroversial.” Unfortunately, as of the latest updated info in December, the other two DO use aborted fetal cell lines in lab tests of the vaccine effectiveness. The full list of vaccines being developed in this article.
What about the dangers of mRNA technology for COVID vaccine?
There are lots of scary articles out on Facebook and in varying social media news claiming that the new covid vaccines use “dangerous” mRNA technology. Many of these disturbing articles and YouTube videos insist the mRNA vaccine will actually alterour human DNA and the effects can never be undone. We will, in essence, be genetically modified. Some go so far as to say the purpose is to genetically program us to accept a new world order.
The following article refutes that position and explains how the mRNA works. Below is an excerpt that points out the key common misconceptions regarding the mRNA vaccines:
*Like all vaccines, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been rigorously tested for safety before being authorized for use in the United States.
*mRNA technology is new, but not unknown. They have been studied for more than a decade.
*mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person.
*mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
This article also explains the mechanism for mRNA action in detail, manufacturing a spike protein unique to the virus. It is not the complete or active virus that is created, thus cannot infect the person. After that spike protein is made, the cell disposes of the mRNA strand which therefore never enters the cell nucleus or alters any genetic material. At that point, the protein begins to make antibodies which will presumably guard against future infections.
mRNA vaccines are not new and have been studied for decades. Scientists have great hopes for them spurring immune responses to battle diseases like cancer. Until now, they have not been used in a vaccine. This concerns many people since the process for producing vaccines normally takes years, even decades.
However the author of this article contends that the beauty of mRNA vaccines is that the can be quickly developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. Thus the vaccine development process is much faster than methods using traditional vaccines.
What about dangers of vaccine to fertility/unborn baby?
As in all areas of health, always read the fine print. There is no doubt mRNA COVID vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women, and becoming pregnant is NOT recommended for 2 months following vaccine! Those taking the vaccine should be warned that breastfeeding after the vaccine can cause risk to the baby, and it is unknown what the impact on future pregnancy might be.
Pregnant women were NOT included in the phase 3 trials thus the safety/efficacy is not known. One has to wonder why pregnant women were not included if this vaccine is considered safe. There are epidemiologists who insist the concerns regarding the risk to fertility are unfounded, but if so, why is it expressly stated as a concern on the warnings to physicians administering the vaccine to patients? Should a vaccine be widely administered to young ladies of childbearing age without knowledge of the risk to fertility?
This is a quote from the UK Regulations to Physicians administering the mRNA Pfizer/BioNTech COVID Vaccine:
Fertility, pregnancy and lactation
There are no or limited amount of data from the use of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2. Animal reproductive toxicity studies have not been completed. COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is not recommended during pregnancy.
For women of childbearing age, pregnancy should be excluded before vaccination. In addition, women of childbearing age should be advised to avoid pregnancy for at least 2 months after their second dose.
It is unknown whether COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is excreted in human milk. A risk to the newborns/infants cannot be excluded. COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 should not be used during breast-feeding.
A counterpoint to the concerns expressed above can be found in the following excerpt. This information is from Dec.5, 2020 “Your Local Epidemiologist” on Facebook:
COVID vaccine and fertility
Some people are shouting that COVID-19 vaccine will cause infertility. This claim is baseless. And, unfortunately, the claim is folded within some complex scientific terms, making it the most dangerous form of misinformation.
Briefly, the COVID-19 vaccine causes you to develop antibodies. If you come in contact with COVID-19 virus after getting the vaccine, these antibodies will attach to the spike on the COVID-19 virus. Once attached, the virus is no longer able to attack the body. The misinformation is claiming that COVID-19 antibodies also attach to spikes (called proteins) on the placenta (called syncytins).
There are a few strong reasons to doubt this claim:
1. You should know that infertility is a common fear tactic of anti-vaxxers. We’ve seen this over and over again (HPV, Hep B). In fact, some developing countries still have polio because of the widespread fear that polio vaccines cause infertility. We, actually, should not be surprised that this is the next wave of pandemic misinformation. Misinformation is becoming almost as predictable as the disease itself.
2. Those that are “naturally” infected with COVID-19 (i.e. not vaccine) also have antibodies. If this misinformation were true, we would be seeing a higher than average early pregnancy loss in the community overall. We are not. Although COVID-19 seems to be a more severe disease in pregnancy (it’s been consistently on the high-risk CDC list), all complications happen later in pregnancy (particularly from lung function, not the placenta). There are a few case reports discussing early pregnancy losses in patients with COVID-19. But case reports are just one or two people. They just tell us that they co-occurred, not that they are related. There is no strong evidence that COVID-19 antibodies increases early pregnancy loss among symptomatic or asymptomatic women.
3. The spike proteins on the placenta and on the virus are in the same family, so they work the same way. HOWEVER, they aren’t similar enough (i.e. they don’t have enough amino acid sequences) to cause confusion to the immune system. In other words, the immune system cannot and will not mistake the placenta for the virus.
IN ADDITION, it’s important to note that COVID-19, itself, is affecting women’s and men’s reproductive health. We DO have the evidence for this. Not to mention that COVID-19 also causes chronic inflammation, which is also associated with decreased fertility. So, getting COVID-19 is certainly not a great second choice if you don’t get the vaccine.
Data Sources: I consulted several public health rock stars and biochemistry scientists on this topic. For those of you that like the hard science, HERE is a great post.
Here are the publications re: COVID-19 and fertility:
But what about the efficacy of a COVID vaccine?
Are the new vaccines likely to be effective in creating immunity? Preliminary tests indicate they are. However, do they know what level of immunity is necessary … and if so, how is the vaccine able to create lasting immunity but COVID survivors’ immunity is unknown?
The article cited in this section attempts to answer that question. First, the author asserts that herd immunity is possible but for the number of people that would have to contract the virus for herd immunity to be effective, there would be an unacceptable number of deaths. The experts also don’t know if herd immunity would be lasting immunity or not. They do see reinfection in some COVID patients though describe it as “rare.”
The vaccine creates the immunity while bypassing the death toll and the debilitation of the illness. The author seems to sidestep the question of how long the immunity from the vaccine will last. However, the experts conclude that the mRNA vaccine is promising in producing lasting immunity since protein that produces the immune response is delivered directly to the cells in our immune system. Ultimately, until there is some time from the vaccination deployment, we won’t fully know the result.
A recent NY Times article discussing this issue states that most experts feel natural immunity could last for years, though they don’t know for sure. Those who have had the disease are not urged to rush to get the vaccine, though the experts conclude, it can’t hurt. They also are fairly confident that vaccinated people will not be able to transmit the disease to others. However, they don’t know if that is true at this point.
What about the spiritual component of all this?
Is the pandemic the result of spiritual warfare? Is this a tool of Satan to fill humanity with confusion and fear? Is it punishment from God for the moral decay in so many critical areas from a biblical standard of holiness and righteousness? Is it just a freak of time that has no spiritual dimension or underpinnings? Was it purposely released as part of some genocidal or world domination conspiracy?
God knows. Maybe it is a little of all those things; however, the Bible can certainly guide us through this crisis.
In Philippians 4:6, the Bible tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
We are certainly to seek peace in God and not be consumed by fear over things we have little control over. What we should be very careful NOT to do is to create division, mocking, or belittling fellow Christians or others. All of us are dealing with this issue but may have chosen different ways to do so.
It is clear there are many unknowns. Many sincere, intelligent, godly people question the trustworthiness of the sources of information. There is little doubt COVID is real, can be serious, and deadly to some people. It is highly contagious. I personally know people who have tested both positive and negative within a couple of days. I also know people who have every symptom but have tested negative. I know people who are “high risk” who have had few symptoms, and sadly I know of some who have struggled for weeks with serious issues. I know people who wear masks all the time who got COVID, and some who don’t ever wear masks who contracted the virus.
The ethical concern in this article is from a prolife stance and mostly centered on aborted fetal cell line use in vaccine production; however, there is also a strong ethical concern about the increase in fear and the future with the COVID crisis which is fueling abortion. The intent of this article was to provoke thought, raise questions, and grapple with some of the moral issues. As in all critical areas of life, we should approach this issue prayerfully and responsibly explore the facts as best we can.
Above all, we are clearly called to love each other and treat one another kindly, with compassion and grace. God can be glorified even in the midst of the pandemic. We glorify God by modeling His mercy and love, even when we disagree with others and their responses to the pandemic.