Coronavirus Vaccine: new Ethical Dilemmas


Several of the vaccines being developed by major companies use cell lines from aborted fetuses

covid-19 vaccine

Newsroom (September 13, 2020 Gaudium Press)  In recent weeks, various ethical dilemmas are taking shape based on whether or not vaccines against COVID 19 can be produced using cell lines from aborted babies. 

According to Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, “grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such vaccines,”  made using cell lines from aborted babies. It would be permitted “‘to use a vaccine that was developed using cell lines of illicit origin, taking into account that everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their health system make available other types of vaccines,'” he adds, citing the 2008 Vatican Instruction Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person).

In other words, it would be permitted to receive these vaccines “under protest,” because “we are not involved in any illicit form of cooperation with the original abortion, which happened many decades ago, and because any risk of scandal which may arise can be reasonably minimized by various steps such as protesting and giving witness to the sanctity of life,” Fr. Pacholczyk said.

It would be different if, in order to produce these vaccines, abortions were to take place now.

But it is also clear that pressure “on pharmaceutical companies and researchers to avoid fetal cell lines from direct abortions and to reformulate problematic vaccines into non-controversial cell sources” is expected from the Catholic faithful. This would break the “cycle of moral coercion” that derives from “big pharma and health authorities”, always failing to produce “ethically-derived vaccines.”

Allegedly mandatory vaccinations

Whether or not cell lines are ethically obtained, the issue of compulsory vaccination is gaining momentum, based on the controversial steps evolved in the production of the vaccines.

Father George Woodall, professor of moral theology and bioethics Rome’s Regina Apostolorum university, says that morally speaking, anyone who wants to conscientiously object to the use of cell vaccines from aborted babies should be allowed to do so, “on the grounds of their serious immoral origin”. But that in case of an epidemic, health authorities could intervene with a “range of restrictive and coercive measures”, committing themselves to develop vaccines from other sources than aborted children.

In a somewhat different angle, Fr. Pacholczyk mentioned that “as a rule of thumb, vaccinations ought not be universally mandated, given the unique manner that a vaccine imposes itself upon the inner workings of the human body, and in consideration of the potentially complex set of risks that may accrue.”

Instead of imposing a vaccine on people, they should become “convinced, through careful and appropriate explanation, of their personal need to receive a vaccine, and freely choose to do so on their own initiative.” A mandate would be justifiable, he added, only in the case of a “highly virulent and deadly pathogen” or if there are “few or no alternative treatments” available.

Whether that is the case with COVID-19 is “debatable,” he said; but even in such “high-risk situations,” he believes that “only a ‘soft mandate’ could be justified,” allowing for medical, religious and conscientious exemptions. “These exemptions provide the needed basis for appropriate ‘opt-outs’ to occur, and for basic human freedoms to be duly safeguarded,” he concluded.

Clearly, all of the above statements are based on the assumption that vaccines are truly effective and do not carry serious health risks. This is also a serious topic of discussion, namely after AstraZeneca labs temporarily suspended vaccine trials due to serious adverse side effects in a patient being tested.

With information from an article by Edward Pentin in the National Catholic Register: “Companies Face Ethical Hurdles in Developing a Covid Vaccine”. 

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