A U.S. Coast Guard officer who refused to be injected with a vaccine derived from the remains of an aborted child has been granted an exemption from the required vaccination.
In May 2006 the Coast Guard ordered all active-duty personnel to receive one of two vaccines against Hepatitis A or show proof of immunity. The vaccines are derived from lung tissue taken from a child who was aborted at 14 weeks-old and then dissected.
Though the Coast Guard allows religious exemptions for those who hold a “religious tenet or belief contrary to immunization,” officials initially refused to grant an exemption for Lt. Cmdr. Joseph J. Healy, who is Catholic.
Healy, in compliance with Coast Guard requirements, submitted a memo requesting a religious exemption because of his Catholic faith and strong opposition to abortion. A higher-ranking officer denied the request, claiming that Catholic teaching “does not state that these immunizations are against the religious tenets of the Catholic Church.”
On Friday the Coast Guard notified the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that it will grant Healy a religious exemption.
Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which represented Healy, said they plan to file a motion to dismiss their January 2 lawsuit seeking the exemption.
Christians shouldn’t be punished for abiding by their beliefs against abortion. The Coast Guard has done the right thing in recognizing that those who lay their life on the line to defend our shores are entitled to the same freedom as anyone else not to have their particular beliefs disregarded," ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said in a press release.
"Members of the U.S. military should never be forced to make an unconstitutional choice between honoring their country and adhering to the belief that health and medicine can prosper without exploiting the killing of preborn children," Bowman said.