There are various ethical considerations associated with Covid-19 vaccines, including, but not limited to, whether it is ethically responsible to receive the vaccine, the priority of who receives the vaccine first, and the equal distribution of the vaccine. While these are all important issues, this article will address whether it is ethically responsible to receive the vaccine. Please note: Wisconsin Right to Life is not in a position to present a scientific analysis of vaccines. Therefore, our comments will strictly concern moral considerations.
The ethical debate regarding the reception of a Covid-19 vaccine revolves around the fact that many of the vaccines which are being rolled out in the United States (and elsewhere), or are in the process of clinical trials, have a remote connection to the abortion industry. As the Charlotte Lozier Institute has brought to light, many Covid-19 vaccines used cell lines derived from abortion.
WHAT IS AN “ABORTION-DERIVED CELL LINE?” WHY DOES IT MATTER?
An abortion-derived cell line is at it sounds: a child was aborted (in the case of Covid-19 vaccines, these children were aborted decades ago), and his/her cells were harvested. These cells have been reproduced for decades in laboratories and are now used in scientific research. The cell lines in question for Covid-19 vaccines are HEK293 cell lines (derived from an abortion in the 1970s i) and PER.C6 cells (derived from an abortion in the 1980s ii). Given that abortion is an objective evil, for it denies the dignity of life, use of abortion-derived cell lines should be avoided, for these cell-lines have ties to the abortion industry and support the culture of death. Additionally, it is not necessary to use these cell-lines for making vaccines—there are other non-morally problematic options that companies can employ. Therefore, we should always advocate for vaccines to be made in ethically non-problematic ways.
VARYING DEGREES OF CONNECTION TO MORALLY PROBLEMATIC CELL-LINES
It is extremely important to highlight that Covid-19 vaccines have varying degrees of connection to these morally problematic cell-lines. Some vaccines use abortion-derived cell lines only in testing, whereas others use them in both testing and production; the latter is obviously more problematic than the former. Specifically, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson used abortion-derived cell-lines in testing and production. iii
WHAT ARE WE TO DO? SHOULD WE BE VACCINATED OR NOT?
When considering if something is moral, we must ask ourselves: what is our intention in the act? What is the intention of getting myself vaccinated? If our intention is to protect our health and the health of others (and if we do not intend on supporting the abortion industry), it is morally acceptable to be vaccinated. Also, it is in large part the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that their vaccines are not in ethically problematic waters. As the recipient of the vaccine, we are not directly involved in the creation or production of the vaccine. Thus, we are very remotely (that is, very distantly) connected to the act of abortion.
That said, if possible, we should choose vaccines which are the least morally problematic. In other words, if at all possible, we should avoid AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in preference for another vaccine. However, we may not have a choice in which vaccine we can or cannot receive. Supply and methods of distribution may affect where, and to whom, certain vaccines are distributed.
To learn more about Operation Warp Speed vaccines, please see this helpful chart from the Charlotte Lozier Institute: https://s27589.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/12.04.20-warp-speed-vaccines.pdf
For a more detailed analysis of Covid-19 vaccines (including Operation Warp Speed vaccines and others), see here: https://s27589.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/COVID-19-Vaccine-Candidates-and-Abortion-Derived-Cell-Lines.pdf
CARE FOR OTHERS
Receiving a Covid-19 vaccine can certainly be an act of charity. As responsible persons, it is morally incumbent that we care for our health and well-being; receiving a Covid-19 vaccine aims at doing this. Equally important, we must care for the health and well-being of others. Receiving a Covid-19 vaccine can be an act of charity toward others as it will hopefully reduce transmission of the virus from person to person, and thus it is aimed at caring for others, especially those who are most vulnerable. If a person chooses not to be vaccinated, he/she nevertheless ought to protect him/herself from the virus as well as take precautions to protect others. Moreover, in whatever course of action one chooses, their decision should be respected.
FINAL WORDS AND A CALL TO ACTION
Despite its very remote and distant ties to abortion, it is worth repeating that receiving a Covid-19 vaccine is morally acceptable. That said, at the very least, when we are presented with the option of receiving the vaccine, by using the above information as a guide, we should inform our healthcare providers that we would like to receive certain vaccines over others. If there is no option in our ability to choose, we can rest assured that receiving whatever Covid-19 vaccine is available is morally acceptable.
In addition to the bare minimum of requesting a certain vaccine over another for ourselves, we should ask our healthcare systems to order the less-morally-problematic vaccines, or to at least make available a variety of vaccines, if at all possible. This will of course depend upon the degree of choice the healthcare systems themselves have in obtaining vaccines.
Finally, even after this pandemic ends, we should advocate that all vaccines (not just Covid-19 vaccines) be made without any use whatsoever of ethically problematic cell-lines. Asking researchers, scientists, and lawmakers to employ ethical vaccine procedures is highly important.
If we do not make our voices heard, there is little chance that abortion-derived cell lines will stop being used.
i “HEK293 Protocols: Cell Culture, Transfection, Protein Production,” HEK293 Cell Line, date accessed January 26, 2021, https://www.hek293.com/.
ii “293 and PER C6 Cell Lines Using AD5,” Life Issues Institute, April 10, 2012, https://www.lifeissues.org/2012/04/293-per-c6-cell-lines-using-ad5/.
iii “Analysis of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates,” Charlotte Lozier Institute, January 5, 2021, https://s27589.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/12.04.20-warp-speed-vaccines.pdf.