Does the COVID-19 vaccine pose a morality question for those who oppose abortion?
While some people who oppose aborition on moral grounds are concerned about the use of vaccines developed from the cell lines that originated from aborted fetuses, a commission on COVID-19 appointed by Pope Francis, urged people to take the vaccine available to them, stressing the need for protection from the deadly virus.
Fetal cell lines that originated from aborted fetuses are commonly used in the development of vaccines. Fetal cell lines are not the same thing as fetal tissue. These cells are grown in a laboratory, originating from elective abortions in the 1970s and 1980s. The current fetal cell lines used in research laboratories are thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were not developed from fetal cell lines. The newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine was produced with the use of these cell lines. Does that pose a moral question for Catholics and others who oppose abortion?
A Vatican commission noted that in some countries use of vaccines which require cold storage is not feasible.
The “Note on the morality of using some anti-COVID-19 vaccines,” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published with the approval of the Pope, explains: “The question of the use of vaccines, in general, is often at the center of controversy in the forum of public opinion. In recent months, this Congregation has received several requests for guidance regarding the use of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, which, in the course of research and production, employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that occurred in the last century. At the same time, diverse and sometimes conflicting pronouncements in the mass media by bishops, Catholic associations, and experts have raised questions about the morality of the use of these vaccines.”
The statement, endorsed by the Vatican, goes on to explain 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.
“All vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive,” the statement continues.
The statement also encourages people to be vaccinated in order to protect others from a deadly virus.
“From the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed,” the statement explains.
Those who refuse to be vaccinated have a moral and ethical duty to take every available precaution – such as wearing masks, washing hands, staying home when sick and socially distancing – to prevent the spread of the virus.”
On March 4, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated it is morally acceptable to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if neither Pfizer’s nor Moderna’s is available.