Some Scientists are Making Coronavirus Vaccines Using Cells From Aborted Babies

National   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 21, 2020   |   9:35AM   |   Washington, DC

The nation’s Catholic bishops have sent the FDA a letter urging the governmental agency to focus on producing a coronavirus vaccine that is free from moral and ethical concerns surrounding the use of aborted baby parts.

With the number of people infected by the coronavirus starting to decline and political leaders setting forth plans to reopen the country, talk has turned to a coronavirus vaccine to make sure Americans don’t get COVID-19 as people begin engaging in public again. but the Catholic bishops echo the concerns of other pro-life groups and leaders, who are wanting to make sure any possible vaccine is not produced based on cells taken from aborted babies.

An open letter sent on Friday and signed by Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “help to ensure that Americans will have access to [COVID-19] vaccines that are free from any connection to abortion.” They write:

As our nation works to defend itself from the deadly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), we write to express our gratitude to you and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all of its efforts to combat the virus and to ask for your help to ensure that Americans will have access to vaccines that are free from any connection to abortion.

To be clear, we strongly support efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible.However, we also strongly urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.

We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies.For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.has a substantial contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines.Thankfully, other vaccines such as those being developed by Sanofi Pasteur, Inovio,and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute utilize cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.

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It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience. Fortunately, there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines.

Commissioner Hahn, we urgently and respectfully implore you to not only ensure that Americans will have access to a COVID vaccine that is free of ethical concerns, but to encourage and incentivize pharmaceutical companies to use only ethical cell lines or processes for producing vaccines.

More than 50 pro-life leaders and 150 federal lawmakers across the country sent letters to the Trump administration last week, urging it to protect human lives, both born and unborn, during the pandemic.

Abortion activists have been trying to take advantage of the crisis by pushing for abortion funding in government spending bills, the de-regulation of abortion drugs, and research using aborted baby body parts. In March, the Washington Post highlighted complaints from anonymous scientists claiming research on the coronavirus is being hindered by new restrictions from the Trump administration on the use of aborted baby body parts in taxpayer-funded research.

National Review reports pro-life lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate both sent letters to the Trump administration telling leaders to stand firm in their commitment to defund the unethical research.

“In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, complaints against your decision to halt funding of aborted fetal tissue research has reached a crescendo,” the House letter states. “These critical litanies, however, repeat false claims and narratives which for many years have touted the utility of aborted fetal tissue in research …”

Christian Headlines reports 131 congressmen and congresswomen signed the letter. They noted that there are ethical alternatives available to researchers that do not involve destroying human lives.

“… holding the line ethically gives us the ability to put resources toward better, more promising science that is already showing potential against the COVID-19 coronavirus,” they stated.

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Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said abortion activists are ignoring the wide variety of ethical options available to scientists, including pluripotent stem cells and tissue from placentas, umbilical cords and amniotic fluid. In 2018, the Trump administration created a $20 million grant to invest in these ethical research alternatives.

Earlier this spring, Dannenfelser joined more than 50 other pro-life leaders in encouraging the Republican administration to stay focused on saving lives both from the coronavirus and abortions.

“In acts of manifest fear-mongering and self-interest, [the abortion industry is] exploiting the anxiety of women and couples by continuing to promote abortion in communities across the country,” the pro-life leaders wrote in a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. “At a time when hospitals are overloaded, the abortion industry is putting women at risk of incomplete abortion, hemorrhage, and infection.”

They asked Trump administration leaders to ensure emergency response funds do not go to the abortion industry and to urge abortion facilities to join healthcare providers in donating their personal protective equipment and other resources to the coronavirus response. They also asked leaders to continue working to stop illegal mail-order abortion drug distribution and to prevent the expansion of webcam abortions.

Recently, the Charlotte Lozier Institute noted that at least 60 potential treatments for the virus are being investigated right now using materials that do not come from aborted babies.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also assured Americans that the Trump administration “has activated a whole-of-government, whole-of-America approach to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.” HHS said these actions include “kick-starting the development of vaccines and therapeutics through every possible avenue.”