Pro-life leader Abby Johnson urged people to boycott any coronavirus vaccine developed with cells from aborted babies Tuesday in a video she posted online.
Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood manager who became pro-life, said she is not anti-vaccine, but she will not take any vaccine for COVID-19.
“If abortion was used in any part of the manufacturing or production of this vaccine, the Catholic Church especially and all Christians should be saying no, we don’t want any part of it,” she said.
All three of the currently available vaccines for the coronavirus used cells from aborted babies in some part of the process. The vaccine by AstraZeneca was developed with cells from an aborted baby’s kidney, though the cells are not in the actual vaccine.
While a number of leading pro-life and religious organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have warned people about the unethical production of that vaccine, they did suggest that two others from Pfizer and Moderna are morally permissible even though there is a “remote connection” to cells from aborted babies in their development as well.
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“I’m here to punch a hornet’s nest,” she said, admitting her reluctance to discuss the issue in the past. “I’m about to speak about this vaccine issue and aborted babies being used, being tested in vaccines.”
She said she is tired of people saying the vaccine issue is complicated, and slammed U.S. Catholic bishops for being “too cowardly to stand up and say, ‘No more!’”
Johnson urged Christian leaders to stand up and tell people that any vaccine developed with cells from aborted babies, no matter how remote the connection, is morally reprehensible. She said society cannot continue to allow “our children to be guinea pigs, and to allow our children to be injected with these vaccines.”
If Christians reject unethical vaccines, Johnson said companies will start producing ethical alternatives.
“I am going to choose to use my voice to protest against these vaccines,” she said.
There is growing disagreement among pro-life and Christian leaders about the morality of being vaccinated with new COVID-19 vaccines because of the connections to aborted babies.
Earlier this week, five Catholic bishops from the U.S. and Europe expressed concerns similar to Johnson’s, saying even the vaccines with remote connections to abortion are unethical.
“The crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic once he has become fully aware of it,” Kazakhstan Bishop Athanasius Schneider wrote at Crisis Magazine.
Schneider said the Catholic leaders who defend taking the two vaccines argue that Catholics may morally use vaccines with connections to abortion “in exceptional cases and for a limited time, on the basis of what in moral theology is called remote, passive, material cooperation with evil.”
But Schneider said the argument that being vaccinated with a product produced with cells from aborted babies – even if there is no alternative – “is in itself contradictory and cannot be acceptable for Catholics.” He said such an act would be “benefiting from the ‘fruits’ of one of mankind’s greatest crimes.”
The USCCB and pro-life leaders have warned pro-lifers about the AstraZeneca vaccine, because its development did directly involve cells from an aborted baby.
In 1972, a female child was aborted in the Netherlands, and cells from her kidneys were extracted and developed into the cell line now known as “HEK293.” “HEK” stands for “Human Embryonic Kidney.” Cells from the HEK293 line have been commonly used in biologic research since the late 70s.
The vaccinations produced by Pfizer and Moderna did not use HEK293 in their design, development, or production, but did use cells from the line in a confirmatory test, said the bishops. …
Conversely, the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca “should be avoided if there are alternatives available,” said the bishops, as this vaccine is “more morally compromised.”
“The HEK293 cell line was used in the design, development, and production stages of that vaccine, as well as for confirmatory testing,” [the bishops said].
The Charlotte Lozier Institute has a list of the vaccines with information about whether cells from aborted babies were used in testing and/or production. Find it here.
Vaccines can be and are produced with ethical materials, 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 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.
It appears that some 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.