Pro-life group urges people to reject COVID-19 vaccine over tie to aborted cells

A researcher works on a vaccine against the new coronavirus COVID-19 at the Copenhagen's University research lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 23, 2020. | AFP via Getty Images/Thibault Savary

A pro-life group is urging people to refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine because the development of it involved the usage of cells taken from the kidney of an aborted baby.

While the newly approved AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine does not contain aborted cells, it was developed in part through growing a modified virus in cells taken from embryonic kidney tissue derived from an abortion decades ago, according to Snopes.

Georgia Right to Life announced last Thursday that it did not morally approve of a vaccine which was created through the usage of aborted kidney tissue.

"We're not giving medical advice to anyone," said GRTL President Ricardo Davis in the Thursday announcement. “We're just presenting the facts that most groups are ignoring, because many pro-life advocates will have a problem taking such a vaccine.”

“Exploiting the death of a child for any reason—no matter how noble—is morally wrong. It denies the Personhood of a pre-born child.”

Davis went on to state that he believed there were “alternative, ethical ways to conduct such tests, as well as to produce a vaccine.”

“I encourage everyone concerned about the link between abortion, vaccine development, biomedicine, and human trafficking to demand that government support the development of vaccines that don't rely on the brutal act of abortion,” he continued.

Some pro-life groups and individuals have expressed concern that the newly developed vaccine may have been derived from or possibly even include aborted fetal tissue.

David Matthews, a virology researcher at University of Bristol, told the Associated Press last month that while aborted tissue was not part of the vaccine, it was used for testing it.

As part of their research, scientists injected the vaccine into MRC-5 cells derived from an aborted fetus to test its effectiveness; the vaccine itself does not contain MRC-5 cells.

"Our work is nothing to do with vaccine production, it’s about checking that the virus is behaving as we expect," explained Matthews to AP.

While GRTL has expressed opposition to the vaccine, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales expressed their support for it despite ethical concerns. 

The Rt. Rev. Richard Moth, chair of the Conference’s Department of Social Justice, released a statement earlier this month saying that it was not a sin for Catholics to take the vaccine despite concerns about the involvement of aborted fetal tissue.

Moth said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy of Life have stated 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,” stated Moth.

“Each Catholic must educate his or her conscience on this matter and decide what to do, also bearing in mind that a vaccine must be safe, effective, and universally available, especially to the poor of the world.”

This week, the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine began nationwide distribution in the United States on Sunday as the death toll from the pandemic neared the 300,000 mark.

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