Prominent bioethics groups are raising concerns about a potential new coronavirus vaccine because British scientists used material from aborted babies to make it.
According to Crux Now, the Oxford University research project has many hoping for success after a human trial began last week.
However, the scientists used cell lines derived from aborted babies in their experiments — something many pro-life and Catholic leaders have been urging scientists not to do, the report states.
Though vaccines can save lives, pro-life advocates believe they should not be developed using materials derived from human rights abuses, including abortions. They note that ethical alternatives are available, and they can be just as successful.
Joseph Meaney, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, told Crux that scientists tend to use cells derived from aborted babies out of “convenience,” even though they have ethical alternatives.
“They exist and their properties are well known,” Meaney said. “They are in no way indispensable to the process as shown by the fact that many companies do not use them and develop good vaccines.”
His organization and the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, England both published papers recently explaining their concerns about certain coronavirus vaccine projects.
“Simply as a matter of fact, use of such cell-lines in COVID-19 vaccine production is likely to create problems of conscience for some of those to whom the vaccine is offered, and who become aware of its history …” the Anscombe center wrote. “Such concerns should be viewed with particular sympathy in the area of abortion, bearing in mind that even those who do not object to all abortions may well object to the particular abortion from which a fetal cell line was derived.”
Many Catholic leaders, including Meaney, are urging people to “insist on ethical scientific research that has no links to abortion or the killing of embryos,” according to the report.
Here’s more from the report:
Both the Anscombe Bioethics Center and the NCBC say that if two vaccines are developed, and one is from the fetus cell lines, and the other is not, it is a moral imperative to try and choose the one not connected to an abortion.
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However, they also say people should not be faced with such a choice.
“Governments should seek to fund research on, and purchase, morally uncontentious vaccines, both to reward morally uncontentious research and to provide more citizens with vaccines they can in conscience accept, even with full background information. Internationally, it is very much to be hoped that morally uncontentious vaccines will be made widely available to all peoples of the world, both to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to combat other threats to life and health,” [according to the Anscombe Bioethics Center.]
American Catholic bishops are raising similar concerns. In a letter Thursday, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas urged people to stand strong against the “evil practice” of using aborted baby body parts to develop vaccines, according to the Church Militant.
“Just because the crime of abortion is considered legal in our nation does not mean it is morally permissible to use the dead bodies of these children to cure a global pandemic,” he wrote. “Emphatically, this practice is evil.”
The bishop said, until recently, he did not realize how pervasive this evil practice had become.
“I urge you to join me, NOW, in passionately but prayerfully speaking out against this practice,” Strickland continued.
Earlier in the week, LifeNews reported how at least two companies are using cell lines created from the cells of aborted babies to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Leading U.S. Catholic bishops responded to the news with a letter urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure vaccines are being produced ethically.
Pro-life leaders also have highlighted how ethical alternatives to tissue from aborted babies are available, 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.
Additionally, some scientists say research using aborted baby body parts has not been successful.
Abortion activists have been trying to take advantage of the coronavirus 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 …”
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.