A series of letter templates released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) allows Catholic to contact vaccine makers and ask them to stop relying on cell lines from aborted babies.
The letter templates, released in February by the USCCB, thank the companies for their work on vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases, while asking them to avoid using cell lines from aborted babies in the future.
Fr. Kyle Ratuiste, a bioethicist in the Diocese of Spokane, explained that “taking practical steps to oppose the use of abortion-derived cell lines helps reinforce our personal conscience, especially if we ourselves have benefited from the vaccine.”
“While numerous ecclesial and moral authorities have indicated that Catholics may morally justify receiving these vaccines, a concern is that accepting these vaccines may cause people to become complacent toward the evil of abortion,” he told CNA. “We can guard against any implicit complacency or even acceptance of this evil, by engaging in the practical advocacy of writing protest letters and supporting ethical research.”
He added that ending abortion-derived cell lines would allow Catholic scientists to do their work with clear consciences and would extend beyond just vaccine development, as “the use of abortion-derived cell lines has truly become ubiquitous in biomedical research.”
Ratuiste also encouraged Catholic to donate to research organizations that are pursuing ethical alternatives. He pointed to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, which has worked for years to research alternatives to embryonic stem cells and is currently working to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine.
Concerns have been raised for months over the link between the new COVID-19 vaccines and cell lines derived from babies aborted in the 1970s.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVD-19 vaccines use a cell line derived from an aborted baby in their testing process, which is common in many contemporary pharmaceuticals, including a wide variety of over-the-counter medications.
The Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine has a stronger link to abortion-derived cell lines, which are used in its testing, development, and production.