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Let’s Get Busy with a Prolife Vaccine for COVID-19

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The use of aborted fetuses for the development of vaccines is ethically objectionable. For this reason, alternatives must be made available. This would enable people to keep from violating their consciences by resorting to a vaccine that utilizes aborted fetal tissue.

“What I find fascinating is that you all work with a retina taken from an aborted fetus.” Thus did Rick Nieman, presenter of the television program WNL op Zondag [in the Netherlands], begin his conversation about corona vaccines with Hanneke Schuitemaker, professor of virology and head of vaccine research at Janssen Pharmaceutica, a pharmaceutical company located in Leyden. This statement revealed what normally remains hidden in the test tubes and petri dishes of the laboratory: the fact that a retina from an aborted child provided a unique cell line, PER.C6, each cell of which is a unique factory in which to test a vaccine.

Janssen makes use of this cell line, derived from an 18-week-old healthy fetus aborted in 1985. The mother gave permission to use the tissue; whether she knows of the PER.C6 line subsequently developed from it is another question. Of the cells cultured from the retina, one cell continued to divide after treatment with an adenovirus, thus forming a cell line.

Janssen used to be the Leyden-based company Crucell, owner of the cell line. Crucell made money multiplying cells and selling them to pharmaceutical companies. Crucell was acquired in 2011 by the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.

Researchers are hard at work worldwide to produce a vaccine to combat COVID-19. Over 160 vaccines are currently in development, of which a few are in the initial test phase.

In vaccine development as a whole, there are only a few cases in which cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue are used. It is important to note that the production of a vaccine does not require repeated resort to aborted tissue, but instead uses a cell line from a single abortion. The cells themselves are not contained in the vaccine; their distant "offspring" are used as a factory to produce the carrier virus.

It remains to be seen whether one of the corona vaccines will actually come from Janssen and have been produced using PER.C6 cells. Nevertheless, Janssen wants to be quick about it: even in this test phase, the company is already developing a multi-million-dollar inventory, even before certainty that the corona vaccine will work is attained. "If we fail, we will have to destroy everything."

Three Visions

In recent years, we citizens have become increasingly aware of how "ethically" our food, our clothing, and even our technology, such as the smartphone, are produced. Finding out is not always easy, but when we become aware of abuses, we become motivated to do something about it. This also applies to aborted fetal tissue. The focal point of the ethical discussion regarding the PER.C6 cell line is whether the ethics of abortion can be disconnected from the ethics of fetal tissue use. In other words, when considering the use of tissue from the dead fetus, can the ethical issue regarding the prior abortion be disregarded? This is being considered worldwide. Let us review three visions on the matter:

1. In the US, the prolife Charlotte Lozier Institute states that the use of these vaccines would be “unethical” because it exploits innocent human lives that have been cut short. Even if cells have been propagated in a laboratory for years, that connecting line remains. Thus, its use raises problems of conscience for anyone who could receive that vaccine and is aware of its lineage. Even more so because vaccine development is also possible without the help of a fetal cell line. This makes scientists, producers, policymakers and financiers equally responsible, even if they themselves are not affected in their own consciences, because of their responsibility to citizens.

2. John Di Camillo, ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, refers to the Roman Catholic encyclical “Dignitas Personae” (2008). Speaking about the ethics of the potential vaccines to Live Action News, which provides pro-life news and commentary, he stated: “If we are talking about the use of cell lines that were developed through the use of tissue from aborted fetuses, there is an obligation for researchers to avoid the use of such........

© American Thinker

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