This news dropped Friday, and it deserves wider attention.
As CNA reported:
A statement by pro-life, Catholic scholars published Friday says that the four major COVID-19 vaccines are not only acceptable to use, but also are themselves morally equivalent.
“While there is a technical causal linkage between each of the current vaccines and prior abortions of human persons, we are all agreed, that connection does not mean that vaccine use contributes to the evil of abortion or shows disrespect for the remains of unborn human beings. Accordingly, Catholics, and indeed, all persons of good will who embrace a culture of life for the whole human family, born and unborn, can use these vaccines without fear of moral culpability,” reads a statement by several Catholic ethicists published March 5.
The statement adds: “There appears to us to be no real distinction between the vaccines in terms of their connection to an abortion many decades ago, and thus the moral starting point is one of equivalence.”
You can read the full statement here.
After offering background on the cell lines used, the authors of the statement note:
The various vaccines have made different uses of the HEK293 cell line, with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca using them for manufacture, Pfizer and Moderna for testing only. But these differences are irrelevant to the following questions:
Do any of the vaccines make more use than others of the mortal remains of unborn children from whom the cell lines were derived? The answer is no; as a matter of scientific fact, no fetal “body parts” are present in these immortal cell lines. The immortal cell lines are artifacts—biological products that have been modified and reproduced many times over, and they do not retain the natural function of the tissue from which they were derived. They are not “body parts” in any meaningful or morally relevant sense.
Does the production and use of any of the vaccines contribute to, cooperate with, or promote any abortion? Again, the answer is no, for the abortions from which cell lines such as HEK293 were derived happened decades ago, and no further fetal tissue is used or needed for the maintenance of these lines.
Common to all pro-life witness is recognition that the apparent elective abortion that led to the derivation of the HEK293 cell line was morally impermissible and involved the unjust taking of a human life. But to repeat, the HEK293 cell line currently used around the globe in scientific research and those like it do not contain the remains of any human being and so its use does not show disrespect for human remains, any more than the contemporary use of products, such as roads or train lines, that were constructed by unjustly enslaved human beings, or use of land unjustly taken, shows disrespect for those victims in the distant past.
Persons with access to these vaccines have strong moral reasons to take them: in doing so, they build up the herd immunity that will provide the greatest possible protection for the most vulnerable among us, including the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, some minority populations, and the many other seemingly random victims of severe COVID-19. To be perfectly clear, we are not saying that people are justified in using and promoting these vaccines because the great goods they provide offset the evil of appropriating a prior wicked action. Rather, we believe that there is no such impermissible cooperation or appropriation here. The attenuated and remote connection to abortions performed decades ago and the absence of any incentive for future abortions offer little if any moral reasons against accepting this welcome advance of science.