A pro-life organization in Georgia warned Americans about being vaccinated with a new COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca this month because researchers developed it using kidney cells from aborted babies.
The Christian Post reports Georgia Right to Life is one of many pro-life and religious groups that has expressed ethical concerns about some of the coronavirus vaccines.
“We’re not giving medical advice to anyone,” said Ricardo Davis, president of Georgia Right to Life, in a statement Thursday. “We’re just presenting the facts that most groups are ignoring, because many pro-life advocates will have a problem taking such a vaccine.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine, one of several that just became available as coronavirus cases grow, was produced in England at Oxford University. According to the report, the vaccine itself does not have cells from aborted babies in it, but it was developed with cells from an aborted baby’s kidney. A number of pro-life and religious organizations have warned pro-lifers about its unethical development.
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“Exploiting the death of a child for any reason—no matter how noble—is morally wrong. It denies the Personhood of a pre-born child,” Davis said.
He emphasized that other vaccines are being produced ethically with materials that do not involve the destruction of human lives.
“I encourage everyone concerned about the link between abortion, vaccine development, biomedicine, and human trafficking to demand that government support the development of vaccines that don’t rely on the brutal act of abortion,” he said.
There are conflicting opinions about the vaccine among pro-life and religious leaders.
According to the Christian Post, the Catholic bishops’ conference in England recently said receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine would not be a sin.
“… one may in good conscience and for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way, provided that there is a sufficient moral distance between the present administration of the vaccine and the original wrongful action,” said Rt. Rev. Richard Moth, chair of the Conference’s Department of Social Justice for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England.
“In the COVID-19 pandemic, we judge that this grave reason exists and that one does not sin by receiving the vaccine,” Moth continued. “Each Catholic must educate his or her conscience on this matter and decide what to do, also bearing in mind that a vaccine must be safe, effective, and universally available, especially to the poor of the world.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Monday that it is morally permissible for Catholics to receive the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which have a “remote connection” to abortion. However, they recommended that Catholics avoid the AstraZeneca vaccine, if possible, because its development and production did more directly involve cells from an aborted baby.
Earlier, 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 issued a similar statement emphasizing that the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna did not use cells from aborted babies in the production phase.
Earlier this year, the Charlotte Lozier Institute identified 17 research groups that were conducting ethical coronavirus vaccine experiments while five that were not. The five using cells from aborted babies in their research include researchers with the University of Oxford (AstraZeneca), Johnson & Johnson and the University of Pittsburgh.
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.