One commonly cited reason for claiming a religious vaccine exemption has to do with the fact that some vaccines are made using aborted fetal cell lines. As reported in an April 26, 2019, article in Christianity Today:1
For certain Christians, the decision of whether to vaccinate comes down to the origins of the vaccines themselves. Some pro-life parents cite a moral disgust and a deep lament over the use of 58-year-old aborted fetal cell lines in development for several recommended immunizations, including MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and chickenpox …
The fetal cells that disturb parents … originate from material procured from two abortions that took place in the 1960s … For immunizations to work, they require the virus to be hosted in a living cell.
Cell biologist Leonard Hayflick, working at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, reasoned that fetal cells would be protected from outside pathogens and the ‘cleanest’ type to use in vaccines.
He partnered with a Swedish scientist to procure the fetal tissue from an elective abortion in a country where it was legal … Vaccine-makers still use the cell lines called WI-38 today.
These fetal cells from the “Mrs. X” abortion were used to grow weakened or inactive viruses in the development of two vaccines: the rubella vaccine (the R in the MMR vaccine) and one version of rabies vaccine …
Around the same time, the British Medical Council in the U.K. also produced vaccines from fetal lung cells. Using cells procured through an abortion in 1966, a culture called MRC-5, they created vaccines for hepatitis A, chickenpox, and shingles. A polio vaccine was also made and used in other countries but not the U.S.
An Ethical Dilemma for Many of Faith
Vaccine manufacturing is not dependent on the ongoing procurement of aborted fetal tissue, and the Catholic Church issued a statement2 in 2005 assuring Catholics that by getting vaccinated they are not “cooperating in evil.”
Yet the idea of injecting themselves or their children with a substance manufactured using aborted fetal cells still makes some Christians, Jews, Muslims and those of other faiths or personal beliefs feel morally uneasy.3 Pro-vaccine advocates and most agnostics have a hard time comprehending why though. As reported by Christianity Today:4
National Institute of Health director Francis Collins suggests comparing it to organ donation after a child was shot. ‘There was a terrible, evil loss of life of that child and yet I think we would all say that if the parents decided and they wanted something good to come of this and gave their consent, that’s a noble and honorable action,’ he said.
‘Does that translate into a parent, after going through a pregnancy termination, deciding that they would like the fetal tissue to actually help somebody?’
However, the article points out that the consent issue actually presents a second ethical dilemma rather than solving the first.
Since the fetal tissues were obtained in an era before medical informed consent really became the norm, there’s no guarantee either that the two women gave such consent, or understood that their fetuses’ cell lines would be used to create injectable vaccines for decades to come. An article on Patheos also discusses this issue, displaying the typical intolerance:5
Here’s what confuses me. People are allowed to donate organs. Parents can even donate their children’s organs. We typically see this as a good thing …
Those two abortions were not performed to obtain fetal tissues for vaccines. They were elective abortions that would have been performed regardless of scientists’ interest in using fetal cells … for developing vaccines.
I understand that abortion opponents see those two abortions as murder. But you know what? When a child or an adult is murdered, their organs can still be donated … If the child is dead either way, why not donate their organs? …
I’ve heard some suggest that vaccines contain residual fetal DNA. Even if that is the case, why would that be so different from cases where someone receives a heart transplant, or a kidney transplant? … Or what about a blood transfusion?
Is Using Animal Cells a Morally Superior Choice?
Clearly, this issue is far from cut and dry, but I think it’s important to at least try to empathize with another person’s point of view. The author of the Patheos article concludes that, most likely, the religious objection to vaccines made with fetal cells has more to do with the “ick factor,” opposed to the sentiment that it’s tissue obtained from murder and therefore immoral to partake in.
However, that is conjecture as many individuals have deeply held religious beliefs opposing abortion and use of aborted fetal tissue for scientific research or other purposes.
Today, many other types of cells are used as growth mediums during vaccine production, and many of those raise moral issues as well. Vaccine growth mediums include6 animal cell strains from chickens, dogs, monkeys, hamsters7 and insects,8 as well as cells from bacteria or yeast.
As just one example, the flu vaccine Flucelvax, introduced in 2014, is grown in kidney cells from dogs.9 Bovine serum (from cow’s blood) is also used for some vaccine components, and trace amounts may remain in the vaccine.10 The use of animal cells doesn’t entirely solve the moral dilemma for all religious faiths though. As noted by Christianity Today:11
There is a subset of the Christian opposition to vaccines that also takes issue with certain animal cells used in medical research, citing concerns over Levitical guidelines on animals and blood products …
Other Reasons to Question Human Fetal Cell Line Vaccines
Regardless of whether you believe the use of fetal cells from abortions in vaccine production is morally reprehensible or completely justified, there may be other reasons to object to being coerced or compelled to use vaccines—or give your children vaccines—that were made using human fetal tissue cells.
According to a study published in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology,12 rates of autism strongly correlate with the introduction of vaccines using human fetal cell lines.
Three vaccines in particular were found to be significantly correlated with autism: MMR, varicella (chickenpox) and hepatitis A vaccines. According to the study authors, autism rates rose sharply each time one of these vaccines was released. As reported in this paper:13
The children vaccinated with MMRII, Varicella and Hepatitis A vaccines varied from 19 to 35 months of age at the time of vaccination. Autistic disorder birth year change points were identified as 1980.9, 1988.4 and 1996 for the U.S., 1987 for U.K., 1990.4 for Western Australia, and 1987.5 for Denmark.
Change points in these countries corresponded to introduction of or increased doses of human fetal cell line-manufactured vaccines … Further, linear regression revealed that Varicella and Hepatitis A immunization coverage was significantly correlated to autistic disorder cases. R software was used to calculate change points.
Autistic disorder change points years are coincident with introduction of vaccines manufactured using human fetal cell lines, containing fetal and retroviral contaminants, into childhood vaccine regimens.
This pattern was repeated in the U.S., U.K., Western Australia and Denmark. Thus, rising autistic disorder prevalence is directly related to vaccines manufactured utilizing human fetal cells.
Part of the problem has to do with what’s called “insertional mutagenesis,” where DNA mutations are created via a viral vector, either naturally or intentionally.14Indeed, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration Powerpoint presentation15 from 2005 discusses the history of cell-substrate DNA in biological products and some of the “perceived safety issues associated with DNA.” As reported by Global Research in September 2014:16
… Dr. Theresa Deisher, lead scientist and SCPI founder noted that, ‘Not only are the human fetal contaminated vaccines associated with autistic disorder throughout the world, but also with epidemic childhood leukemia and lymphomas’ …
Instead of conducting safety studies [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration] regulated the amount of human DNA that could be present in a vaccine to no greater than 10ng17 … Deisher’s team discovered that the fetal DNA levels ranged anywhere from 142ng – 2000ng per dose, way beyond the so-called ‘safe’ level.
‘There are a large number of publications about the presence of HERV (human endogenous retrovirus — the only re-activatable endogenous retrovirus) and its association with childhood lymphoma,’ noted Dr. Deisher.
‘The MMR II and chickenpox vaccines and indeed all vaccines that were propagated or manufactured using the fetal cell line WI-38 are contaminated with this retrovirus. And both parents and physicians have a right to know this!’
This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published on Dr. Mercola’s website at www.mercola.com.
1 Christianity Today April 26, 2019.
2 Pontifica Academia Pro Vita, Moral Reflections on Vaccines (PDF).
3 Huffington Post March 31, 2017.
4 See Footnote 1.
5 Patheos.com September 26, 2019.
6 Vaccine Ingredients.
7 FDA.com Shingrix (PDF).
8 Medpage Today December 22, 2017.
9Time October 30, 2014.
10 See Footnote 6.
11 See Footnote 1.
12 Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology September 2014: 6(9); 271-284 (PDF).
14 Science Direct, Insertional Mutagenesis.
15 FDA Powerpoint: Issues Associated With Residual Cell-Substrate DNA.
16 Globalresearch.org September 8, 2014.
17 See Footnote 15.