January 4, 2021
Already members of our parish are being vaccinated against Covid. Health care workers and first responders are receiving vaccinations. The question of the ethics of the vaccines is one of grave importance to us. There are vaccines that use cell lines from aborted fetuses to develop the vaccine. Without getting into the weeds of determining moral culpability for receiving these vaccines, let me give you a summary of how we should respond.
First, we should be grateful that safe and effective vaccines have and are being developed. Medical science, working with God’s good creation, is able to do amazing things these days. Now, after being thankful, we need to look at the vaccines and ask which are ethical for us to receive? The Vatican has issued an instruction on this question. It is called “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines.” You can find the full text here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20201221_nota-vaccini-anticovid_en.html?fbclid=IwAR1f_uUUlTkSefrVHR-uEjy2qlroM8JDVR8QjCtihKtHxeDzBX0xIC7p2Ik.
Basically, it says that we should only accept those vaccines that do not use cell lines from aborted fetuses. Only if we have no alternative can we use them. Fortunately, here in the US, we do have ethical alternatives. The Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines currently being offered are considered ethical. While they did use cells from aborted fetuses in the testing process, this is considered too remote a level of cooperation to make these ethically problematic.
On the other hand, the vaccine being developed by Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca uses aborted cells in development of their vaccine. This makes it ethically problematic.
Below is a chart from the Charlotte Lozier Institute summarizing the ethical issues for each vaccine. As you can see all of them use aborted cells in some of the testing. But, again, this is considered too remote a cooperation to ethically disqualify a vaccine.
However, each person should act according to his conscience. If in your conscience you do not want to receive a vaccine that even used aborted cells in testing then you can abstain from receiving that vaccine. You should consider your entire situation in that regard. Some factors to consider are: How likely am I to spread the virus to other people? Am I supporting a family and need the vaccine for my work? Am I a health care provider or first responder that needs to be able to help others?
If we do receive a vaccine that has a connection with abortion, we should register our objection to the company developing the vaccine. If you have any questions please ask me. You can reach me at the parish office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.