The Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is produced in cell lines derived from abortions — by contrast Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines used them in testing, which some argue may put them in the same moral category.
The debate around the morality of fetal tissue vaccines frequently both contains and hinges upon faulty assumptions — thus, whichever side you stand on, it's worth considering the most common ones.
1. "Only a few babies were used."
While each individual cell line contains the cells of just one baby, many aborted babies are used in the process of creating a cell line. For example, under oath, scientist Stanley Plotkin admitted that there were 76 aborted babies used in just one vaccine study. Furthermore, with cell line WI-25 we know that it was the 25th specimen from the 19th fetus.
The two cell strains used by Covid vaccines are named HEK293 and PERC6. The name HEK 293 stands for a Human Embryonic Kidney from the 293rd experiment — we can be confident that many more babies preceded the final baby used for HEK293.
2. "The babies were of a very early gestation."
Most of the babies whose tissue formed the basis of the different vaccine cell lines, were over 3 months when aborted. For example, under oath, scientist Stanley Plotkin admitted that all of the 76 unborn babies used in the study were 3 months or older.
At 3 months, a baby is fully formed: “she has begun swallowing and kicking… facial muscles are getting a workout as her tiny features form one expression after another...”
3. "Consent was given, so usage is ethical."
Parties to a murder cannot ethically donate the body of their victim to research. Thus it follows that no meaningful consent exists. (Though the mothers involved are often, to varying extents, victims themselves.)
4. "The baby was dead when the tissue was taken."
With fetal tissue research, cell death renders the tissue unfit for purpose: tissues and organs must be harvested "within 5 minutes", and at times this occurs while the baby's heart is still beating — this was also revealed during a Planned Parenthood court deposition.
Thus, harvesting the organs can be a type of torture beyond the normal abortion procedure. Though we have no definitive proof live harvesting occurred specifically in the making of vaccine cell lines, since it is "no rare event", there are legitimate grounds for concern, and very much evidence.
5. "Some were from miscarriages."
"The requirements for 'freshness' of many human foetal tissues" mean it is extremely unlikely any were from miscarriages. "To obtain embryo cells, embryos from spontaneous abortions cannot be used…"
6. "Using a dead body is distinct from abortion."
Some imagine that those involved in creating the cell lines have nothing to do with the abortion itself. However, in advance of the abortion of a fetus whose tissue will be used for research, there are a number of steps that take place. These include obtaining consent, conducting genetic screening, selecting the abortion method and other steps for optimal harvesting — all of which impact the abortionist's conduct, creating considerable interplay with the agent seeking human material, who thus "becomes to some extent an accessory". A parallel to Saul at Stephen's stoning exists — Saul didn't throw a stone, but as a consenting bystander he was not without moral guilt. In cases of live tissue extraction, research is still more directly connected to murder.
7. "No one now profits from the abortion."
Companies who developed the cell lines continue to be rewarded by their use, including in vaccines. Thus direct benefit accrues to agents complicit in the original murder.
8. "Vaccines don't contain the child's actual cells."
Vaccines produced in cell lines contain fragments of the child's DNA — one study even found "a complete individual genome" of the aborted child. The divided cells the vaccine was grown in would have been the child's as she grew.
9. "No extra abortions are necessary."
Despite claims to the contrary, normal cell strains "are in fact 'mortal'", bound by the "Hayflick Limit" of about 50 cell divisions. Since HEK293 becomes cancerous after time, it will need replacing — just as other early cell strains did. The use of vaccines eventually creates a need for further abortions to replace depleting stocks.
10. "The abortions were from decades ago."
Though most abortions for vaccines were from before the 80's,, time cannot make murder moral. Moreover, a new Chinese cell line, WALVAX-2 was created in 2015, and as already explained, more lines will be necessary.
11. "No further babies are suffering as a result."
While fetal tissue vaccines are widely accepted, general fetal harvesting is legitimised and impossible to ban — so it has grown instead, leading to many more babies suffering.
For example, in 1982 a container of 16,500 fetuses was found at the US home of a former laboratory owner. In 2003, the Dutch company behind HEK293 sought aborted babies as far afield as New Zealand and Australia. Journal articles discuss "the fetal tissue economy" in Britain. In 2019, 2,200 fetuses were found at an abortionists home and the court depositions of Planned Parenthood staff showed harvesting continues at scale.
Moreover, both practice, and polls indicate,, that parents are more likely to choose abortion if "medical use" of a fetus is possible. Thus, if the option of having babies used for medical purposes was not available, less future babies would suffer and be aborted.
If all pro-lifers rejected such vaccines, moral alternatives would be found and an "ethically, morally and biblically wrong" industry might end.
12. "The 'greater good' outweighs concerns."
To acquiesce with evil against an innocent unwilling victim for the sake of communal blessing enters dark waters — all historic child sacrifice is based on this premise. However, it may then be argued that these baby body parts would otherwise be wasted, thrown away. But not only does this justify abortion, but it is pure utilitarianism, that says pretty well anything is justified as long as the end is (potentially) good. In good medical science the end does not justify the means."
From a Judeo-Christian perspective, the God of the Old and New Testament is set apart by not asking for the firstborn of men to die that others might live — but instead by giving his own firstborn in man's place. There seems a potential conflict between ingesting the Lord's flesh and blood, and that of a baby's body "broken for you" — fetal tissue vaccines perhaps possess moral taint far beyond that of meat offered to idols.
This article was originally published here.
1: ^ 2020-11-11; Prentice, David; Charlotte Lozier Institute; Update: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates and Abortion-Dervived Cell Lines; https://lozierinstitute.org/update-covid-19-vaccine-candidates-and-abortion-derived-cell-lines/
2: ^ 2021-01-07; Trasancos, Stacy; Children of God for Life; COVID-19 Vaccine and HEK293: Testing and Production are Ethically Equal; https://cogforlife.org/2021/01/07/covid-19-vaccine-hek293-testing-and-production-are-ethically-equal/
3: ^ Retrieved 2020-09-08; Vinnedge, Debra; Children of God for Life; Aborted Fetal Cell Lines; https://cogforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/AbortedFetalCellLines.pdf
4: ^ 2018-01-11; Plotkin, Stanley; Court Deposition; Excerpt answering the question: 'In your work related to vaccines, how many fetuses have been part of that work?'; https://youtu.be/DFTsd042M3o?t=27787
5: ^ 1961-05-15; Hayflick, L & Moorhead, P; Experimental Cell Research; The Serial Cultivation of Human Diploid Cell Strains; https://cogforlife.org/Hayflick1961ExpCell.pdf
6: ^ Retrieved 2020-10-27; Children of God for Life; https://cogforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/CovidCompareMoralImmoral.pdf
7: ^ Retrieved 2020-10-29; HEK293 Cells: Applications and Advantages; https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/HEK293-Cells-Applications-and-Advantages.aspx
8: ^ See the gestational ages: https://cogforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/AbortedFetalCellLines.pdf
9: ^ 2018-01-11; Plotkin, Stanley; Court Deposition; Excerpt answering the question: 'In your work related to vaccines, how many fetuses have been part of that work?'; https://youtu.be/DFTsd042M3o?t=27787
10: ^ 'Fetal Ultra-Sound: 3 months'; https://www.babycenter.com.my/3-months-pregnant
11: ^ 'In order to sustain 95% of the cells, the live tissue would need to be preserved within 5 minutes of the abortion. Within an hour the cells would continue to deteriorate, rendering the specimens useless.'
Dr. C. Ward Kischer, Embryologist and Emeritus Professor of Anatomy; Specialist in Human Embryology, University of Arizona College of Medicine (Tucson, Arizona) Personal interview with Debra Vinnedge 7-02, ALL Conference
12: ^ 'Fetal tissue for transplantation must be 'harvested' within a few minutes of delivery... Drugs which reduce fetal physiological activity need to be avoided. The fetus is therefore in as alive and aware a state as possible when being opened.'
1988-03; Alderson, Priscilla; Journal of Medical Ethics; Review: The Foetus as Transplant Donor: Scientific, Social and Ethical Perspectives; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/25178659_The_Foetus_as_Transplant_Donor_Scientific_Social_and_Ethical_Perspectives
13: ^ 'Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained... They were placed in a sterile container and promptly transported to the virus laboratory of the adjacent Hospital for Sick Children. No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.'
1952-06; Thicke et al; Cultivation of Poliomyelitis Virus in Tissue Culture; Growth of the Lansing Strain in Human Embryonic Tissue, Canadian Journal of Medical Science, Vol. 30, pg 231-245; https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/cjms52-031
or more recently: https://youtu.be/FzMAycMMXp8?t=256
14: ^ 'In 1974 the great English gynecologist Dr Ian Donald, who 'invented' ultrasound, told me of witnessing modern experiments at Sweden's Karolinska Institute on large, living aborted babies, cringing with pain.'
1988; Marx, Paul; Confessions of a Pro-Life Missionary; Human Life International
15: ^ 2019-04-12; Larton, Perri; Court Deposition Planned Parenthood; Intact babies cut by procurement officer; https://youtu.be/lHh5IFXao-4?t=276
16: ^ 'I can see hearts that are beating in a POC that is not intact that are beating independently...'
2019-04-12; Larton, Perrin; Court Deposition Planned Parenthood; https://youtu.be/lHh5IFXao-4?t=373
17: ^ It is now suspected that unborn babies feel pain from as early as 3 months
2019-07-11; Derbyshire, Stuart & Brockmann, John; BMJ: Journal of Medical Ethics; Reconsidering fetal pain; https://jme.bmj.com/content/46/1/3
18: ^ 'The first part of this chapter addressed the question of live birth or pre-viable foetuses after the use of different techniques of termination and suggested that this is no rare event.'
1987; McCullagh, Peter; Wiley & Sons; The Foetus as Transplant Donor: Scientific, Social and Ethical Perspectives, p115-116. https://books.google.co.uk/books?redir_esc=y&id=rVpsAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=no+rare+event
19: ^ 'The experience of one large American hospital was that 9% of second trimester deliveries induced by prostaglandin alone resulted in live births.'
1979; Pahl, R & Lundy, L; Obstetrics & Gynecology, 53, p587-591; Experience with mid-trimester abortions.
20: ^ More than 50% of babies removed by hysterotomy (i.e. caesarean section) were born alive: '23 out of 44'.
1961; Kullander, S & Sunden, B; Journal of Endocrinology, 23, 69-77; On the survival and metabolism of normal and hypothermic pre-viable human foetuses.
21: ^ 'Obstetricians and gynaecologists are well aware of the increasing number of fetuses which are born alive, because of the increased use of prostaglandins'
1976-10; Nathanson, Bernard; Hastings Center Report, pp. 11-12.
22: ^ For more mature reading on this matter, please see our ongoing project to collate the material here: http://fetaltissue.org/live-harvesting
23: ^ 1987; McCullagh, Peter; Wiley & Sons; The Foetus as Transplant Donor: Scientific, Social and Ethical Perspectives, p17.
24: ^ Re: HEK293, miscarriage is highly unlikely for various reasons — please see 'How was it obtained?' (page 2): 'in all probability the cells were obtained from the embryo of a willfully induced abortion.'
2006 Autumn; Wong, Alvin; National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly; The ethics of HEK 293; https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/65a7/5696bb1e03a46cba9f0c976da2b50916dec2.pdf
25: ^ 1986-04-26; Herranz, Gonzalo; Il Sabato, no.15; A reply to a previous article in the same journal by Paolo Cucchiarelli and Marina Ricci
Professor Herranz was, at the time, President of the Committee of Medical Ethics of Spanish Doctors and Vice-President of the Permanent Committee of Medical Ethics of the European Community
Source: 1999; Pietro Croce, 'Vivisection or Science', pg 86, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1119364/
26: ^ 'the fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well... There were no familial diseases in the history of either parent, and no history of cancer specifically in the families.'
1969-08; Gamma Globulin Prophylaxis; Inactivated Rubella Virus; Production and Biologics Control of Live Attenuated Rubella Virus Vaccines: Discussion on Session V. Am J Dis Child. 118(2):372–381. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/503195
27: ^ See the comments here on the unethical complicity between doctors and researches for WALVAX-2. This is widespread, I just use WALVAX-2 as a clear recent example.
2015-04; Ma et al; Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics; Characteristics & viral propagation properties of a new human diploid cell line; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4526020/
28: ^ 'Both cell lines [HEK293 & PERC6 — the two used by Covid vaccines] were made in my lab, and also the cells, the starting material, was prepared by myself at the University of Leiden [i.e. he was on hand at the hospital where the abortions occurred].'
2001-05-16; Meeting transcript; USA FDA: Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research; https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170404095417/https:/www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/01/transcripts/3750t1_01.pdf
29: ^ '[The] proposition to be discussed holds that individuals embarking on utilization of the aborted foetus for tissue transplantation may do so without incurring any moral opprobrium generated by the abortion. In addressing this proposition it is necessary to differentiate between the morality of the manipulations involved in harvesting transplantable organs or tissues from the aborted fetus and the moral status of the operator undertaking this task. In any sequence of two activities, the opportunity for the second of which is totally dependent on the occurrence of the first, the morality of the second agent's participation is not necessarily neutral or positive merely because the contents of the second action, assessed in isolation, may be so. Evaluation of the second agent's position requires information on the extent of any association with the first agent in addition to knowledge about the actual content of the second action...
'I would submit that the demonstration of association of the second agent with the first event, even at a level that falls substantially short of incurring any culpability for it, may suffice to vitiate claims for complete independence from it. Specifically, on the occasion of fetal utilization as a transplant donor, it is common practice for mutual agreement on the timing of initiation of termination procedures to be pre-arranged in order to ensure that those harvesting and utilizing the tissue from the foetus will be prepared. A specific example of the form of interaction that may appear in the course of collaboration to obtain foetal tissues in optimal condition concerns the selection and modification of termination procedures to achieve this end. The existence of such interactions between those performing the termination and those harvesting and transplanting tissue from the fetus is inconsistent with the contention that the second agent enters the situation as one completely free from any association with preceding events. This lack of a total separation is one (of many) ways in which collection of foetal organs differs from the collection of organs from road accident victims.
'Given that some influence relating either to a specific case (for example the timing of termination) or to that class of cases (such as the termination procedure) will indubitably be exerted on the first individual's activities by the second, the latter becomes to some extent an accessory.'
1987; McCullagh, Peter; Wiley & Sons; The Foetus as Transplant Donor: Scientific, Social and Ethical Perspectives, p17-18, 178, 179-180.
30: ^ 'And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 22, verse 20
31: ^ '...moral complicity is best conceptualized as conduct that expressively aligns one with another agent's wrongdoing. Expressive alignment occurs as a result of one agent expressing a positive desire, attitude, or belief toward another agent's (a primary agent's) wrongdoing.'
2003; Parker, Joseph; Rice University; Moral complicity: An expressivist account; https://hdl.handle.net/1911/18558
32: ^ 'I realize that this sounds a bit commercial, but PER.C6 were made for that particular purpose [the pharmaceutical industry]. Also, as far as I know, more than 50 different companies have taken license for PER.C6.'
2001-05-16; Meeting transcript; USA FDA: Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research;
33: ^ Retrieved 2020-10-30; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-ingredients/dna
34: ^ 2020-04-27; Corvelva; VaccineGate: Priorix Tetra human genome and MRC-5 cell line - comparative study; https://www.corvelva.it/en/speciale-corvelva/vaccinegate-en/priorix-tetra-human-genome-and-mrc-5-cell-line-comparative-study.html
35: ^ 'Human diploid cells undergo a number of population doublings inversely proportional to donor age.'
1997-08-01; Hayflick, Leonard; University of California, San Francisco; Mortality and Immortality at the Cellular Level: A review; http://www.protein.bio.msu.ru/biokhimiya/contents/v62/full/62111380.html
36: ^ Perhaps, for this reason, Leonard Hayflick, the developer of an early cell line used by 2 billion people, has consistently claimed that 'the WI-38 embryo's estate' was a legitimate stakeholder: 'a good case could be made for title to WI-38 to be vested in the parents or estate of the embryo from which WI-38 was derived'.
1998-01; Hayflick, Leonard; Experimental Gerontology; A novel technique for transforming the theft of mortal human cells into praiseworth federal policy; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/13762615
2018-05-31; Hayflick, Leonard; The Biomedical Scientist; A Controversial Life: Interview with George Wister; https://thebiomedicalscientist.net/science/controversial-life
37: ^ 1965-03; Hayflick, Leonard, Elsevier: Experimental Cell Research; The limited in vitro lifetime of human diploid cell strains; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0014482765902119
38: ^ 2014-07-20; Bartlett, Zane; The Embryo Project Encyclopedia; Leonard Hayflick (1928- ); https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/leonard-hayflick-1928
39: ^ 'the tumorigenicity of the HEK 293 cell line reached 100% when the passage exceeded 65... more attention should be paid to the passage level of the HEK 293 cell line, especially for vaccine production but the low-passage HEK 293 cell line should be acceptable to regulatory authorities for recombinant virus vector, vaccines, and gene therapy. Meanwhile, we also find that high-passage HEK 293 can be employed as a highly malignant tumor model as its tumorigenicity increases significantly.'
2008-04-18; Shen et al; Elsevier; The tumorigenicity diversification in human embryonic kidney 293 cell line cultured in vitro; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18378163/
40: ^ 'in the early 70's, the [National Institute of Health] stock of low passage WI-38 cells had become seriously depleted… IMR-90 was developed [to enable] replacing WI-38 within ongoing laboratory programs.'
2004; Coriell; Cell Collections; https://www.coriell.org/0/PDF/IPBIR/CCRNews.pdf_4.pdf
41: ^ 1983-10; Nichols, Warren; PubMed: In Vitro; Characterization of a new human diploid cell line—IMR-91; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6629383/
42: ^ Retrieved 2020-10-22; Creative Biolabs; PER.C6 Cell Lines; https://www.gmp-creativebiolabs.com/per-c6-cell-lines_74.htm
43: ^ 2015-04; Ma et al; Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics; Characteristics & viral propagation properties of a new human diploid cell line; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4526020/
44: ^ 2011-08-12; Bush, George; The New York Times; Stem Cell Science & the Preservation of Life; https://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/12/opinion/stem-cell-science-and-the-preservation-of-life.html
45: ^ 1985-08-29; The New York Times; 16,500 Fetuses to get burial after long fight on funeral; https://www.nytimes.com/1985/08/29/us/16500-fetuses-to-get-burial-after-long-fight-on-funeral.html
46: ^ 2003-05-24; Bingham, Eugene; The New Zealand Herald; Government asked to sanction foetus sale; https://web.archive.org/web/20030710230811/http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3503775&thesection=news&thesubsection=general
47: ^ 2003-06-10; Wall, Tony; Herald Sun; Foetal tissue for overseas sale; https://cogforlife.org/2003/06/10/crucell-nv-hunts-down-fresh-aborted-fetuses-for-vaccines/
48: ^ 2008-12; Kent, Julie; The fetal tissue economy: From abortion clinic to the stem cell laboratory; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.09.027
49: ^ 2019-09-14; Taylor, Derrick; The New York Times; More Than 2,200 Preserve Fetuses Found at Property of Dead Doctor, Officials Say; https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/14/us/dr-ulrich-klopfer-fetal-remains.html
50: ^ 'Fetal Trafficking Under Oath', https://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/fetal-trafficking-under-oath/
51: ^ 'Doctors and ethicists say this is the first time a family has publicly admitted conceiving a child to serve as an organ donor. But many others have done so privately. Parents have had babies to provide bone marrow for siblings and relatives or even, in one case, a kidney… at least 40 children had been conceived for the purpose of bone marrow donation in the past 5 years.'
1991-06-04; Kolata, Gina; New York Times; More Babies Being Born to Be Donors of Tissue; https://www.nytimes.com/1991/06/04/health/more-babies-being-born-to-be-donors-of-tissue.html
52: ^ 2015-03-26; Pickles, Kate; Daily Mail; Family's anguish as woman aborts unborn child so she can donate bone marrow to sister battling leukaemia - only to find out they don't have enough money for transplant; https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/peoplesdaily/article-3011404/Family.html
53: ^ 2001-02-23; Does Aborted Fetal Tissue Research Influence a Woman's Decision to Have An Abortion?; https://web.archive.org/web/20040910003058/http://www.nebcathcon.org/fetal_tissue.htm#Does
54: ^ 1995-09-01; Martin et al; Canadian Medical Association Journal; Fetal tissue transplantation and abortion decisions: a survey of urban women; https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/1487409
55: ^ 1991-06-17; Morrow, Lance; Time; When One Body Can Save Another; http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,973182,00.html
56: ^ 'I had a previous 18-year career in biomedical research and can attest that the majority of biomedical research is ethically sound. However, basing bioethics on the truths of the BIble, abortion and the associcated harvesting and selling of body parts from aborted babies is ethically, morally and biblically wrong.'
2015-07-14; Patrick, Charles; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Modern Day Molech; https://web.archive.org/web/20191012113917/https://swbts.edu/news/releases/modern-day-molech/
57: ^ 2015-10-15; Taylor, Philippa; The Conservative Woman; Ground-breaking medical research can still be ethical; https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/philippa-taylor-ground-breaking-medical-research-can-still-be-ethical/