Family of N

More on Vaccines Derived from Aborted Fetal Tissue

Posted in Health, Parenting by Laura on January 10, 2009

Yesterday I posted about vaccines manufactured using tissue from aborted babies. Sounds like a sick Internet myth, doesn’t it? So I did a little extra research, and here’s what I learned.

1. I don’t think it’s a myth. Because if Wikipedia says it, it’s most likely true.

“The Rubella component, Meruvax, is propagated using a human cell line (WI-38, named for the Wistar Institute) derived in 1961 from embryonic lung tissue. This cell line was originally prepared from tissues of aborted fetuses, raising religious objections.”

2. Rubella is not so dangerous to Savannah as it is to any pregnant women she encounters — or, more ironically, to the unborn babies of any pregnant women she encounters.

“Rubella is most serious because of its ability to produce defects in a developing fetus if the mother is infected during early pregnancy. Congenital rubella syndrome occurs in 25% or more of infants born to women who acquired rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy.” whereas “In children and adults, rubella is usually mild and may even go unnoticed.” (From

Not that this should change the importance of getting Savannah that vaccine. The crusade to vaccinate against Rubella is intended to prevent others from spreading the disease to pregnant women, and that’s a cause I’d like to support.

3. The vaccines do not require a continuous supply of aborted babies. They were initially created using a single cell line in 1961, and if Roe vs. Wade were reversed today, the vaccine could still be manufactured just as it is today.

4. The Catholic community in particular seems to be aware of this issue. This Catholic blogger also wondered if the aborted-babies-in-vaccines claim was a myth and did her own very thorough research.

5. A couple thoughtful articles on the ethics of using these vaccines.

  • Dr. Walt
  • Pontifica Academia Pro Vita

4 Responses

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  1. Harmony said, on January 10, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I was reading a different take on this (I can’t find the link right now) from a Catholic blog, and the point they were making is that if it were a matter of life and death it would be ethical to accept the vaccine, because in essence you are trading the life of one baby for the life of millions of other babies. If it were merely a matter of health (that is, if the baby would likely not die from contracting the disease – even if it meant the baby would suffer deformity) then it would be unethical to accept the vaccine, because you are placing the health of your child above the life of another.

    It’s hard to know what to do because there are so many different opinions. I think the most obvious response is what the Catholic Medical Association says: “When alternative vaccines are available, they must be used in place of those produced by immoral means.” It’s those few cases where no alternative exists that pose the greatest problem. I know I’m going to be mulling this over for a long time to come.

  2. Harmony said, on January 10, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Okay, one more note. There *is* an ethical alternative available in the UK and Japan. It’s not labeled for sale here in the US (yet), but you do have the option of flying to another country to get the vaccine. Just a thought….

  3. Laura said, on January 10, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    @Harmony: You summarized one point of view as “If it were merely a matter of health… then it would be unethical to accept the vaccine, because you are placing the health of your child above the life of another.”

    I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as this (and maybe you don’t either). Sin from the past (the abortion) has already happened, and your decisions going forward can’t change that. None of your options will save the child who was aborted — at most they can show him respect — but some of your options might protect the life or health of another child (and in the case of rubella, that child probably isn’t your own, if that matters). So you’re choosing between an act of respect for the aborted baby and an act of protection for a living child.

    Or looking at it another way, it’s an act of disrespect for the aborted baby or an act that may put a living child in danger. Neither one seems very good. Except that I’m not sure giving the vaccine is even disrespectful. I still have a hard time saying how using the vaccine is any different from accepting an organ transplant, which as I see it isn’t demeaning to the donor.

    I’m starting to look at this as similar to the question of whether or not to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Something wrong was done by somebody else to prepare the vaccine, but I am not participating in or condoning that evil by using the result for a good purpose.

    Obviously we’ll try to use alternatives where we can. When we can’t, though, the Professor and I have agreed that we will still give Savannah the vaccines as planned. (Though I would relish the excuse for a trip to Japan!)

  4. Alan said, on January 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    The “meat sacrificed to idols” analogy is an interesting way to look at this. I think you’ve reached a reasonable conclusion.

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