Archbishop of S'pore: 'Morally acceptable' for Catholics to use vaccines developed with aborted foetus cell-lines

The connection of today’s vaccines to the original abortions is 'fairly remote'.

Joshua Lee | February 04, 2021, 10:28 AM

The Archbishop of Singapore, William Goh, has affirmed that it is morally acceptable for Catholics to take vaccines that were developed with the use of cell-lines from aborted foetuses.

Cell-lines are cells that have been removed from animals, humans or plants and multiplied over time.

Cell-lines are used for a variety of reasons, including scientific studies, drug tests, and vaccine production.

Foetal cell-lines are derived from cells that were extracted from aborted foetuses in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Catholic Church has taken the stance that cell-lines that are derived from the cells of aborted foetuses are "morally compromised".

In a letter dated February 3, Goh clarified that the foetal cell-lines were not used as ingredients in vaccines, meaning that foetals cells are not inside the vaccine that is injected into recipients.

Rather, vaccine makers can use foetal cells to aid the development, confirmation, and manufacturing of some vaccines as not every vaccine needs foetal cell-lines.

For instance, the vaccines that are currently available to residents in Singapore — Pfizer-BioNTech's BNT162b2 and Moderna's mRNA-1273 — were developed with the aid of foetal cell-lines.

Both used the foetal cell-line HEK 293 (a kidney cell line that was isolated from a terminated fetus in the 1970s) in the confirmation phase to ensure that the vaccines worked.

"Therefore, while the original production of these cell-lines involved a grave moral wrongdoing, the connection of today’s vaccines to the original abortions is fairly remote," said Goh.

He went on to say that the Catholic Church considers it "morally acceptable" for people to use such vaccines "if no other ethically-obtained vaccines are available, and if we have sufficiently serious or grave reasons".

Examples of grave reasons provided by Goh include:

  1. Being susceptible to contracting Covid-19 and facing very serious consequences of getting infected if one is not vaccinated
  2. Building herd immunity and ending the epidemic

He said:

"Vaccination seems to be the best means available to us now to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stopping or slowing a pandemic which has already killed over two million people worldwide is a sufficiently grave reason to get vaccinated even if the vaccine derives from morally compromised cell-lines."

However, Goh added that, if for medical reasons or reasons of conscience, Catholics discern that they are unable to get vaccinated, they should wear masks, sanitise hands, ensure safe-distancing and always take the requisite safety measures to avoid transmitting the virus to others.

You can view a full list of vaccines which use abortion-derived cell-lines here.

Top image credit: Daniel Schludi on Unsplash, Image of HEK 293 from Wikimedia Commons.