A coronavirus vaccine developed from cell-lines originating from the cells of an unborn child who was aborted in 1983 can be received without sin, the English and Welsh bishops’ conference said Thursday.
“Some have questioned the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine since it has been developed from cell-lines originating from the cells of an aborted foetus in 1983. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy of Life have expressed the view that 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. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we judge that this grave reason exists and that one does not sin by receiving the vaccine,” Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton, chair of the social justice department of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, said Dec. 3.
“Catholics may in good conscience receive any of [the coronavirus] vaccines for the good of others and themselves. In good conscience, one may refuse a particular vaccine but continues to have a duty to protect others from infection,” he wrote.
As Bishop Roth noted, the Vatican has said that researchers have a duty to avoid using cell lines derived from aborted children in vaccine production, but that parents can, for serious reasons, use these vaccines for their children if already produced, in the interest of public health, while publicly advocating for an ethical alternative.
Both the vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca and Janssen are produced using abortion-derived cell lines.
Moderna and Pfizer have produced vaccines from the RNA of the coronavirus. Merck, Novavax, and Sanofi are producing vaccines from animal cells, while Inovio Pharmaceuticals is developing a DNA vaccine without the use of cells in its production.
UK regulators approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine Dec. 2.
Bishop Moth stated that “the development of a vaccine against COVID-19 presents an important breakthrough in protecting others as well as oneself from the virus; a virus which has not only caused a global pandemic and led to a huge loss of life but has also placed a great burden on healthcare workers and systems.”
He added, “Each of us has a duty to protect others from infection with its danger of serious illness, and for some, death. A vaccine is the most effective way to achieve this unless one decides to self-isolate.”
The Charlotte Lozier Institute, research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Dec. 3 that it is “encouraging” that “many leading vaccine candidates” funded by the U.S. “do not use abortion-derived cell lines in their production,” while adding that some of the tests conducted on these vaccine candidates used the abortion-derived cell lines—which “unnecessarily put American families in a difficult position.”