Abortions & Vaccines
[Editor’s Note: AP auxiliary staff writer Dr. Stearsman holds an M.A. in Bioethics and Medical Humanities from the University of South Florida, as well as the Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Florida. He has taught courses in the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.]
Can vaccines be used in good conscience if the vaccine was developed using tissue from aborted fetuses?
In 2015 a group by the name of Center for Medical Progress set up a fake company called Biomax that infiltrated Planned Parenthood, exposing some of its inner workings.1 Biomax interviewed people in high positions and exposed how Planned Parenthood stood to profit from abortions by selling recovered fetal tissue to researchers. The videos ignited a media frenzy and sent shock waves throughout the nation. In response, Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood, denied any wrongdoing in The New England Journal of Medicine as he reported that 1% of approximately 700 health centers nationwide assist patients who wish to donate fetal tissue following abortion.2
Advancing to 2020 with the race to find a safe and effective vaccine for treating COVID-19, questions have arisen concerning the development of potential vaccine candidates from aborted fetal cell lines. In June of 2019 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suspended funding for research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where acquisition of new fetal tissue would be required.3 While contracts within the NIH that use new fetal cell lines have been discontinued,4 cell lines from decades-old aborted fetuses are still being used in developing a vaccine candidate.5 If a candidate is developed from decade-old fetal cell lines, would consenting to vaccines or administering vaccines be justified in God’s eyes? Can a straight line be drawn from abortion to patient use?
Examining the morality of vaccine use involves looking at individual patient choices in view of the larger public and global health. Vaccines are intended either to prevent or treat disease.6 Individual patients vaccinate to prevent or treat disease that ultimately could be fatal. From a public health perspective, vaccines are intended to protect the larger public from disease and possible death but, as with any human action, it is important to consider God’s thinking on the matter before acting.7
The History and Origin of Vaccines
For more than 80 years, aborted human embryos and fetuses have been used to research and develop vaccines.8 As far back as the 1930s, Olitsky and others used brain tissue from human embryos to grow poliovirus.9 Since that time, vaccines against measles, rubella, chickenpox, shingles, rabies, Hepatitis A, and polio have been created using fetal tissue.10 In addition to vaccines, fetal cell lines are used in research or treatments for Parkinson Disease,11 HIV, Hepatitis B and C, retinal disease, and fetal development.12 In 2014, the National Institutes of Health funded 164 projects using fetal tissue totaling $76 million and more than $152 million in embryonic stem cell research for the same period.13
Several prominent cell lines exist that are the products of abortion. HEK-293 is a cell line that originated from the kidney cells of an aborted embryo from 197214 and that is cited in more than 28,000 articles.15 This cell line is commonly used in gene therapy where adenovirus is used to deliver experimental genes.16 Other cell lines include: PER.C6 which was isolated from the retinal cells of an 18-week-old fetus in 1985,17 WI-38 from lung tissue of an aborted 12-week-old fetus, and MRC-5 from lung tissue of an abortion of a 14-week-old fetus.18 The WI-38 cell line goes back to a single abortion in 1961.19 To be clear, these cell lines do not require multiplied continual abortions today, but rather are the product of single abortions that happened decades ago. 20
The Language of Abortion
Understanding the language of abortion is essential in examining questions of conscience since sometimes the technical language can be quite confusing.21 The way doctors may technically use terms may be quite different from the way the public uses them. In medical texts, like Williams Gynecology, abortions are distinguished as either therapeutic or elective (voluntary) and either spontaneous or induced.22 The language in medicine can be confusing and disturbing to mothers. For example, a physician might call a spontaneous delivery (miscarriage) an abortion because pregnancy ends.23 If a mother were to hear this verbiage she might be shocked, especially when she bears no moral guilt for the fetal demise and when the death was clearly out of her control. Morally, such cases are quite different than when a mother aborts for economic reasons, convenience, rape, or incest. Electively killing the unborn is a conscious choice made by some mothers and supported medically by practitioners and abortion advocates.
Streamlining the Moral Questions
Moral concerns are voiced in how vaccines are researched. If vaccines are created from research that uses embryos or fetal tissue recovered from an elective abortion, can one in good conscience consent to the use of the vaccine for himself or a loved one (e.g., child)? The concern here is that consenting to a vaccine makes one a participant in abortion or, at the very least, implies an endorsement of abortion. What are the grounds of this concern? Are vaccine users contributing to the death of the unborn?
In analyzing this multifaceted issue, two clear moral questions arise. First, is it moral to abort? Second, is it moral to use aborted tissue? Morally, these are two distinct acts. In examining the moral and scientific evidence, let us examine if one can morally consent to a vaccine while not consenting to abortion. Or, is consenting to certain vaccines necessarily consenting to, or even encouraging in some way, abortion?
Moral Principles and Abortion
Morally, there are several principles that come into play in examining abortion. One principle is that human life, including the life of the unborn, is ultimately valued by God Who created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). God gives and sustains the very breath of life of all mankind (Genesis 1:30; 2:7; Acts 17:25). The ancients understood that life had value prior to birth (cf. Exodus 21:22-25). Roughly 700 years prior to Christ, God said: “Ephraim’s glory shall fly away like a bird–no birth, no pregnancy, no conception” (Hosea 9:11, ESV). From this passage, there can be no doubt that those of old possessed some knowledge of maternal changes and fetal development. Job and Jeremiah understood the value of human life prior to birth (Job 3:1-3,11; 10:18-19; Jeremiah 20:14-18). This life created by God possesses dignity that calls for respect and sanctity that calls for reverence.24
Second, human life is not only valued, but the destruction of innocent human life is condemned by God (Proverbs 6:16-17, Deuteronomy 19:10, Psalms 72:12-14). Elective abortion destroys innocent human life when pregnancy is terminated. This taking of innocent human life is condemned by God (Mark 7:21).
Third, a human owes a duty to his neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). This involves looking to exactly when a human becomes a neighbor. A human becomes a neighbor precisely at the point of fertilization—the joining of sperm and egg.25 Prior to fertilization no specific or separate human existed. God says that man has a duty to love his neighbor as himself (Matthew 22:39). Elective abortion violates the Golden Rule that states whatever we wish others would do to us, we should do to them (Matthew 7:12). Note that one’s relationship to his neighbor is not predicated on how he has been treated—the principle of reciprocity. Instead, God entreats a higher moral standard to treat people how “we wish” they treated us. The Golden Rule points to a higher moral framework, a Divine path that acts, instead of reacts. Every mother that practices abortion deprives a separate life of the opportunity that she enjoys. The glory of this distinct life that is so dependent on her is tragically cut off. These three principles prove that the act of abortion is sinful. But what about the second question: is it moral to use aborted tissue?
Research and Being Complicit
To answer this question, the moral principle of complicity needs to be considered. One is complicit when he consents to the acts of others, either for good or for evil. If one grants approval to evil, one bears culpability and guilt in that evil act (Romans 1:32).26 Interestingly, there seems to be no market or bank of tissue deposits that come from miscarriages or instances of natural fetal demise. The majority, if not all, of the fetal tissue comes from elective abortions. Does that mean that research on vaccines encourages abortions? Can a direct line from abortion be drawn to patients who use them?
Although recent limitations have been enacted, in public research there is certainly a market for the tissue of the unborn. The Federal Government recognized that this market may create unethical incentives and has set up certain restrictions that Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) monitor for compliance so that human subjects are protected in research. That federal statute states:
§45 CFR 46.204 Research involving pregnant women or fetuses.
- ~ (a) – (g)
- (h) No inducements, monetary or otherwise, will be offered to terminate a pregnancy;
- (i) Individuals engaged in the research will have no part in any decisions as to the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate a pregnancy; and
- (j) Individuals engaged in the research will have no part in determining the viability of a neonate.27
This statute intends to prevent research from increasing the number of abortions to achieve certain research ends. While there may be a desire to use aborted tissue, the researcher is put at a distance to prevent influencing one to abort. If the statute is followed, no direct line exists between researcher and abortion. The desire for tissue is separated from the actual cause of death. Therefore, a direct line from vaccine user to abortion does not exist.28
Parallel in Organ Recovery
Tissue from organ donors is recovered after death in the United States for medical use and clinical research. Medical uses include a myriad of transplantation and graft procedures. Research uses are even broader and include donations for education. In medicine, the goal of these donations is to benefit a particular patient. In research, the goal is to advance general or applied knowledge on a topic.
There are several ethical risks that often surround organ donations or anatomical gifts. One is that medical staff will end the life of a person prematurely simply to recover their organs for some benefactor. State laws address and mitigate these issues head on by limiting incentives for providers in recovering organs. Hospital administrators will notify recovery organizations, but then largely step out of the way as separate staff recover vital organs. In the state of Florida, for example, an attending physician who certifies the death may not be paid or reimbursed for participation in organ recovery or be employed by a procurement organization.29 In medical practice, those who care for those near the end of life (like attending physicians, hospitalists, or hospice providers) are different from those who recover the organs (the recovery organization).
One might wonder how organ recovery relates to the use of cell lines that originated from aborted fetal tissue. Where these two cases differ is in how one dies. In organ recovery cases, doctors attempted to preserve the life of the donor, and healing and comfort are offered up until death. In abortion, however, the unborn life is not offered this same courtesy.
What then is the similarity between organ recovery and tissue recovery following abortion? The parallel is that in both instances tissue is recovered following death.30 Neither the need for organs nor the desire to advance research are the means by which death occurs or the impetus for it. Both merely involve how tissues are used after death has occurred.31 There are two distinct moral acts under consideration. One act is abortion, which is biblically wrong. Another act is the use of tissue after death which, in the case of vaccine research, has nothing to do with the mother’s decision to sinfully abort the child in the first place.
In summary, man should continue to stand against the evils of abortion. Further, viable embryos should be protected and not destroyed in the name of research or medical practice. Concerning the conscientious use of vaccines, there is no direct causal line between abortion and vaccine use. Given that the moral question of how one dies is materially different from what one does with the body after death, one can in good conscience consent to a vaccine without necessarily consenting to abortion.
1 Owen Dyer (2015), “Planned Parenthood Accuses Anti-Abortion Group of ‘Corporate Espionage’ for Promoting Misleading Video,” theBMJ, 351:h3996, July.
2 Raegan McDonald-Mosley (2015), “Tearing Down the Fetal Tissue Smokescreen,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 373:24, December 10.
3 HHS Press Office (2019), “Statements from the Department of Health and Human Services,” https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/06/05/statement-from-the-department-of-health-and-human-services.html.
4 HHS Press Office.
5 Meridith Wadman (2020), “Abortion Opponents Protest COVID-19 Vaccines’ Use of Fetal Cells,” Science Magazine, June 5, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/abortion-opponents-protest-covid-19-vaccines-use-fetal-cells.
6 Angus Dawson (2007), “Vaccination Ethics,” Healthcare Ethics, ed. Richard Ashcroft, Angus Dawson, Heater Draper and John McMillan (Wet Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons), Second Edition, p. 617.
7 The focus of this article is not on the benefits versus risks analysis that would be considered in making the medical or clinical decision to consent to vaccines. Further, the focus here is not should one use vaccines nor must one use vaccines. Instead, the focus is on whether, given the history of their origin in research and development, the Bible would excuse the conscience in exercising liberty to use vaccines (cf. Romans 2:15).
8 Generally, the designation “embryo” refers to development up to the end of the eighth week of gestational development. “Fetus” is the designation from week nine up until birth. Although these words are inconsistently used in scientific literature and dictionaries, life has value from the beginning regardless of how people describe it.
9 Shari Gelber, Laurence McCullough, and Frank Chervenak (2015), “Fetal Tissue Research: An Ongoing Story of Professionally Responsible Success,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 213:819, October 23.
10 Meredith Wadman (2015), “The Truth About Fetal Tissue Research,” Nature, 528:179, December 10.
11 Gelber, McCullough, and Chervenak, p. 819.
12 Wadman, “The Truth…,” p. 179.
14 Wadman, “Abortion Opponents….”
15 Gelber, McCullough, and Chervenak, p. 819.
16 Alvin Wong (2006), “The Ethics of HEK 293,” National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 6:474, Autumn.
17 Wadman, “Abortion Opponents….”
18 Wong, pp. 475-476.
19 Daniel Maher (2002), “Vaccines, Abortion, and Moral Coherence,” National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 2:55, Spring.
20 Maher, p. 55.
21 Andrew Moscrop (2013), “‘Miscarriage or Abortion?’ Understanding the Medical Language of Pregnancy Loss in Britain; A Historical Perspective,” Medical Humanities, 39:98-104, December.
22 B.L. Hoffman, J.O. Schorge, J.I. Schaffer, L.M. Halvorson, K.O. Bradshaw, F.G. Cunningham, L.E. Calver (2012), “Chapter 6. First-Trimester Abortion,” in Williams Gynecology, ed. B.I. Hoffman, J.O. Schorge, J.I. Schaffer, L.M. Halvorson, K.O. Bradshaw, F.G. Cunningham, and L.E. Calver, 2e, http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56695971.
24 Norman Geisler (2010), Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic), second edition, p. 187.
25 Dave Miller (2003), “Abortion and the Bible,” https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx? category=7&article=445.
26 Another passage on being morally complicit occurs in the Old Testament when the prophet Jehu says to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you” (2 Chronicles 19:2).
27 See https://oir.nih.gov/sourcebook/ethical-conduct/special-research-considerations/fetal-tissue-research/reminder-intramural-investigators-legal-requirements-regarding.
28 In law, in the study of damages (torts), proximate cause is defined as the primary cause or direct cause of damage or injury. A user of a vaccine is not a direct (or proximate) cause of a decades-old abortion. See “proximate cause” in Black’s Law Dictionary, second edition, https://thelawdictionary.org/proximate-cause/.
29 F.S. 765.517.
30 Please note that these two cases do not take up the possibility of a viable embryo being collected during abortion.
31 While mourning for loss is appropriate (Matthew 5:4, John 11:35), duties toward the living terminate upon death (cf. Romans 7:1-3). Sanctity (treating with holiness) and dignity (treating with respect) are duties that are owed to living human beings while they abide in the flesh (Exodus 4:11; Psalm 8:4; Genesis 1:26-28; Acts 17:29). Upon death, the mortal body perishes and so diminishes the sanctity and dignity (1 Corinthians 15:53-55). In death, the flesh returns to dust and the spirit to God Who gave it (Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20; 12:7; James 2:26).
Further Questions, Answers, and Clarifications Regarding Abortions & Vaccines
The following addresses several questions asked about abortions and vaccines.
1) Does the article above advocate that people should vaccinate or must vaccinate? Some oppose vaccines on other grounds, like adjuvants, preservatives, autism, or liberty infringement.
In the United States, choices concerning vaccines evoke strong emotions surrounding issues of public health and infringing on personal liberties. Sometimes mentioning a vaccine thrusts a person into a culture war full of polarization. We would not wish to cause unnecessary division (1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2). We do, however, want to reason thoughtfully through the dynamics of the issue at hand, due to its relevance in America today (cf. Isaiah 1:18). The article does not advocate that peopleshoulduse vaccines or that people must vaccinate. This choice involves the consideration of several patient-specific variables. In fact, in some cases, the risks outweigh the benefits and patients should not vaccinate. For example, sometimes patients are immunocompromised or are undergoing chemotherapy or have allergens where the risks would outweigh the benefits. The article considers, as a matter of liberty, whether someone could use certain vaccines in good conscience given their developmental origin.
2) Does the article argue a utilitarian ethic of the greatest good for the greatest number or an outcome-based ethic?
No, the argument in the article proceeded from the Bible, rather than purely secular ethical theories. While calculating risk versus benefit (Luke 14:31) and doing good to all men are noble goals (Galatians 6:10; Matthew 7:12), the article at hand focused on assessing moral accountability for two actions.
3) Does the article argue that the end (receiving or administering a vaccine) justifies the means (having an abortion)?
Absolutely not. No vaccine could ever justify elective abortion. The ends do not justify the means. The above article takes a strong stance against abortion. While several acts and their human agents could be considered, two acts are specifically under consideration in the article. One act is abortion. A second act is administering or receiving a vaccine. The article was careful to point out that in the U.S. standards of practice and laws exist that separate the sin of abortion from the end user who may choose to vaccinate. In addition to 45 CFR 46.204 [See Reseach and Being Complicit], the 42 U.S. Code § 289g–1 states:
(A) in the case of tissue obtained pursuant to an induced abortion—
(i) the consent of the woman for the abortion was obtained prior to requesting or obtaining consent for a donation of the tissue for use in such research;
(ii) no alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy was made solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue; and
(iii) the abortion was performed in accordance with applicable State law.1
Therefore, one ought not conflate an immoral act (abortion) with a moral act (preventing disease). Laws and standards of practice are in place that forbid vaccines being the proximate cause of abortion. If one receives a vaccine, one is not necessarily supporting abortion. In short, the heinous act of the deliberate abortion of a child had nothing to do with—and no connection to—the use of the fetal tissue.
4) Is there a breakdown in the parallel between organ procurement and donation and using vaccines from fetal cell lines? Can you explain the parallel?
Let’s consider a homicide scenario where an innocent person is senselessly murdered. If this occurred, would it be possible to use one or more organs from the deceased to benefit one or more people? Based on the Bible, we would oppose the senseless murder of an innocent person (Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18). Additionally, we would argue that the death of the innocent person was tragic (Proverbs 6:16-19). Further, we would stand against inducing or encouraging more senseless homicides that were carried out for the purpose of more people benefitting from more transplantations (Romans 1:32). Since someone has died, however, and has died a death not wanted or encouraged or supported by the beneficiary, it would be possible for that life that ended tragically to benefit others in need. In the U.S., laws and standards of practice exist that separate sin (and sinner) from end user. [See Research and Being Complicit ] There is a parallel for those who choose to use vaccines from fetal cell lines. They can oppose abortion. They can also oppose behaviors (inducements or encouragements) that lead to abortion. They can also take confidence that their use or administration of a vaccine did not cause the abortion. People immorally decide to abort independent of choices of end users who may choose to use or administer a vaccine. So, for those who decide to exercise that liberty, they can oppose abortion while using/administering a vaccine. If they ask the question—“In using/administering this vaccine, did I cause an abortion?”, they can in good conscience answer that they did not. The end user bears no guilt in the abortion.
5) What about issues of informed consent? In organ donation, one could potentially consent to organ donation, but an aborted child gives no consent. Should I refrain from vaccine use based on informed consent grounds?
Each individual must thoughtfully work through the issues at hand with conscience in mind. Concerning organ donation, the U.S. is an “opt-in” nation.2 Patients are not donors by default. If organs are procured, the patient or family must consent to the donation. Donor status can be indicated on a driver’s license and some states are “first-person consent” states.3 In these states, if a conflict with the family were to arise upon death, the organs could still be procured because the patient, prior to death, gave first-person consent. Also, in the U.S., children up until the age of 18 do not typically give consent. They will assent, giving agreement, to certain procedures and sometimes, as they approach the age of maturity, courts will consider the child’s understanding and desires in weighing medical decisions. So, for children, parents could consent to organ donation upon their death. In the article, the cause of death of the donor was not detailed. [See Research and Being Complicit] This death could be from a tragic accident or from any number of reasons. The parallel that was offered was that upon death, tissue exists that potentially could be used that benefits another. If laws and standards of practice are followed, the user of the tissue bears no responsibility or moral guilt in the death of the donor.4
6) Can you clarify, do all vaccines come from fetal cell lines?
No, there are multiple vaccinations that are available in the United States. Some are developed from fetal cell lines and others are not. Vaccines that use fetal cell lines include measles, Hepatitis A, and Varicella (chicken pox).5 Concerning some of the COVID-19 candidates, some, but not all, are derived from fetal cell lines.6
7) WALVAX-2 is a fetal cell line developed in 2015. Why does the article not address this cell line?
In no way should the article be seen as an endorsement of abortion practices in the U.S. or abroad. The article primarily focuses on practices in the United States where the laws and standards of practice may differ from other nations. Other countries may or may not create vaccines that would directly encourage the practice of abortions through, for example, incentives. WALVAX is a Chinese biotech company that has produced a cell line derived from an aborted fetus that is offered as an alternative to MRC-5.7 Currently, there seems to be little information in the primary literature that addresses vaccines that would employ this cell line. There is no evidence that any of the candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine utilize WALVAX-2.8 It is important to note that alternatives do exist to fetal cell lines. Currently, there are means to capture cells from amniocentesis9 and human umbilical cords.10
8) The thought of receiving a vaccine bothers my conscience. Should I be a recipient if it benefits the greater public health?
The question addressed in the above article was whether, as a matter of liberty (not obligation), one could receive or administer a vaccine. People should not violate their consciences (1 John 3:20). The Bible is the ultimate guide of human behavior (2 Timothy 3:16-17). One’s conscience is not a guide, but a guard that accuses or excuses behavior (Romans 2:15).11 Further, the conscience guards retrospectively, evaluating past behavior, and guards prospectively as one contemplates future behaviors.12 The point of the article is to biblically and scientifically inform people so that they could make decisions in good conscience.
9) Once an abortion occurs, are any who subsequently handle the body guilty of the abortion?
The Bible says “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20). The acts under consideration are sequentially linked, yet culpably distinct. Acts before and after the abortion must be evaluated according to Scripture. Abortion is certainly a sin. Further, practitioners who facilitate abortions are guilty of sin. Yet, not every act of handling the body after abortion is sinful whereby one would be guilty of sin. From Ezekiel 18 it is clear that God holds those spiritually accountable who commit offenses, not subsequent generations. Subsequent generations ultimately are held accountable for their own sins. Also, consider the details of 1 Corinthians 8 and its applicability to the current discussion. Practicing idolatry is certainly sinful. Yet, one who consumed meat that was sinfully offered to an idol is not blameworthy (culpable) for the offense of the idolater. Sequentially, idolatry occurs before eating, but guilt for idolatry is not transferred to one who eats meat. The idolater commits sin in every instance of sacrifice. The one eating does not commit sin in every instance (1 Corinthians 8). Concerning abortion and vaccines, once death has occurred, what can one do with the body? Must one only bury or cremate it? Could one look at the corpse, take a picture of the corpse, look at the tissue with a microscope, or freeze a sample of the tissue? Since sin does not inhere in the flesh, all of these options could be moral.
10) What about the moral issues surrounding the exchange of money for fetal tissue? If researchers or developers pay for fetal tissue, is this blood money?
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, He was betrayed by Judas through the Jews for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Later, when Judas claimed he had betrayed innocent blood, the Jews refused to put those funds into the treasury, because it was blood money (Matthew 27:3-10; Deuteronomy 23:18). The Jews then went and purchased the “Field of Blood” (Matthew 27:8). Was the purchase of the field with the “blood money” or the reception of the blood money by the owner of the field sinful? The Jews on that occasion apparently did not believe so, and Deuteronomy 23:18 did not say so. Researchers and developers are complicit in evil if they are intentionally and directly funding evil (Romans 1:32). For example, if a researcher or manufacturer were paying a woman to have an abortion or paying abortion providers to electively abort, they would be complicit in encouraging evil. If funding directly causes one abortion, it is one too many. But once that evil is committed, sin does not inhere in the flesh nor pass to everyone who handles the dead flesh. While one can certainly sin in acts with the deceased (e.g., necrophilia), one can also benefit from the deceased (e.g., organ donation).
11) Do vaccines made from aborted fetuses financially support wicked organizations like Planned Parenthood?
Legislation prohibits that from happening.13 Federal law prohibits Planned Parenthood from receiving money to terminate a pregnancy for research purposes. They cannot receive “inducements, monetary or otherwise” to terminate a pregnancy for research.14 Further, Federal law prohibits “any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”15 What this means, practically, is that researchers, vaccine or otherwise, are forbidden by law from encouraging or persuading an abortion to occur. Once an abortion has occurred, payment may be received for expenses (not for profit) associated with “transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.”16 Planned Parenthood, therefore, legally cannot profit from the dispersal of human fetal tissue for vaccine research, and payment for fetal tissue is expressly forbidden by U.S. law.
12) By refusing to accept certain vaccines, would it promote the demise of organizations like Planned Parenthood?
In short, the answer is no. Planned Parenthood cannot legally profit from the dispersal of human fetal tissue, so receiving a vaccine or not receiving a vaccine made from human fetal tissue would not financially help or hinder the organization. Further, even if everyone stopped using vaccines from fetal cell lines, elective abortions would still occur.
13) Even if one is not blameworthy (culpable) for the death of the child, is it wrong for others to benefit from the death in some way?
One should never do evil that good may come (Romans 3:8). Further, one would not advocate for one to continue in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-2). Yet, what man means for evil, God can use for good. Joseph’s brothers meant evil for him, yet God used their evil to bless Joseph and the family and, subsequently, was able to preserve a nation (Genesis 50:20). In the case of Christ, man intended evil and destruction for Christ on the cross of Calvary (Acts 4:26-29), yet God brought glory, forgiveness, triumph, and victory for mankind (1 Corinthians 1; 15).
3 First Person consent is also referred to as “First Person Authorization.” See https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/news/when-the-living-and-the-deceased-dont-agree-on-organ-donation.
4 For a historical look going back to the Reagan administration, see the use of fetal tissue in https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/559348/fetal_tissue_report.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=yR. Also see https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmp1510279.
5 See https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/abortion-opponents-protest-covid-19-vaccines-use-fetal-cells. Further, for a complete list of U.S. vaccines, see https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vaccines-list.html.
6 See https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/06/05/statement-from-the-department-of-health-and-human-services.html.
8 See https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/abortion-opponents-protest-covid-19-vaccines-use-fetal-cells, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html, and https://lozierinstitute.org/a-visual-aid-to-viral-infection-and-vaccine-production/.
11 David Stearsman (2013), “Is the Conscience a Safe Guide?” Kenyon, Brian. Ed. Do You Understand Biblical Morality, Florida School of Preaching, Lakeland.
12 Daniel Sulmasy (2008),“What is the conscience and why is respect for it so important?” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 29:135-149.
13 President Reagan convened a Fetal Tissue Transplantation Panel in 1988. The chair of this panel, along with several members opposed abortion rights. This panel recommended that “the question of donation not be addressed until after a woman had decided she was going to end the pregnancy” (Charo 890-891). Further, “It also endorsed the law that prohibited tissue sale for profit (reimbursement of costs was permissible) and recommended that women not be allowed to direct tissue for transplantation to particular people” (Charo 891). See R. Charo (2015), “Fetal Tissue Fallout,” New England Journal of Medicine, 373;10: 890-91, September 3.
14 See 45 CFR § 46.204(h) at https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/45/46.204.
15 42 U.S. Code § 289g–2(a). See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/289g-2.
16 42 U.S. Code § 289g–2(e)(3). See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/289g-2.
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