Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2020 / 15:28 pm
Development of an effective, safe and widely available vaccine for the novel coronavirus is deeply important, but its development should avoid unethical links to abortion, said pro-life leaders in a letter to the Trump administration.
“It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience,” said the April 17 letter to Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Fortunately, there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines,” it continued.
The letter’s signers include Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities; the heads of three other bishops’ conference committees; and leaders of many other Catholic and non-Catholic groups.
The letter comes after the release of the Trump administration’s gradual three-phase plan to remove restrictions on economic and social life while seeking to contain the coronavirus spread, especially spread to vulnerable populations. A coronavirus vaccine, if effective, could help prevent infection and speed economic recovery.
The letter’s signers “strongly support” vaccine development “as quickly as possible.” At the same time, they urged the federal government to “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”
“We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies,” signatories said.
They cited the case of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, which has a “substantial contract” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is working on a vaccine produced using “ethically problematic cell lines.”