Four pro-life medical groups provided clarifying details Wednesday about whether the development of two new coronavirus vaccines involved cells from aborted babies.
In a statement, the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations said the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna did not use cells from aborted babies in their production phases, the Catholic News Agency reports.
Though “it is true that the animal-phase testing for these vaccines used abortion-derived fetal cells, commendably, it does not appear that production methods utilized such cells,” the pro-life groups said.
Both vaccines soon could be available in the United States. The companies said they are waiting for final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but the vaccines already are in production.
The pro-life medical groups said ethical alternatives to cells from aborted babies are available, such as umbilical cord tissue and adult stem cells, neither of which involve the destruction of human life. They said many viral vaccines that have been produced in recent years did not use “abortion-derived fetal cell lines for their production.”
“These and other ethical approaches provide encouragement for the future, where no vaccine will violate the dignity of human life in their production,” they continued.
They urged pharmaceutical companies to commit to the “assurances of safety, efficacy” and “uncompromised ethical development” of vaccines.
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“It is profoundly important to recognize the vaccines that may have been developed with the use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines,” they said. “This awareness is necessary from the perspective of both the health care professional and the patient, and every participant in this process deserves to know the source of the vaccine used to allow them to follow their moral conscience.”
According to the report, a number of Catholic leaders said it is not immoral to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, including the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pro-life committee and a leader at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
However, some did identify the vaccine from Oxford University/AstraZeneca as a problem because researchers are using cells from aborted babies in its development.
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, 17 research groups are conducting ethical coronavirus vaccine experiments while five are not. The five using cells from aborted babies in their research include researchers with the University of Oxford, Johnson & Johnson and the University of Pittsburgh.
In May, U.S. Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann urged pro-life advocates to speak out against the unethical use of cells from aborted babies in the creation of a coronavirus vaccine.
Speaking with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, Naumann said now is the time for Catholics and other pro-lifers to demand ethically developed vaccines.
“I think all we need really is for our pharmaceutical companies to realize that this is offensive to a large number of Americans and give them the encouragement, give our government the encouragement, to make sure these vaccines are not morally compromised in any way,” he said.
Vaccine producers are listening to pro-lifers’ concerns. In September, the company Sanofi-Pasteur announced plans to produce a new, ethically-developed polio vaccine. The project will replace an older polio vaccine that was developed with cells from an aborted baby, according to the Catholic News Agency. Sanofi-Pasteur is one of the largest vaccine production companies in the world.
Ethical alternatives to cells 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.