What is the Vatican's position on the use of vaccines derived from an abortion?

By Alan Moy, MD

In 2005, the Vatican's Pontifical Council of Life provided moral directives for Catholics governing the use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines. The Vatican viewed the use of aborted fetal cells in terms of "Degrees of Cooperation with Evil". This meant that the farther away one was from the abortion act, they are less involved in participating with evil. Thus, if a vaccine offered a cure for a serious disease, and there was no ethical alternative medicine available, then it was permissible for a Catholic doctor and a Catholic patient to use that vaccine. However, there were two other issued declarations. First, doctors and patients also were permitted to exercise their moral conscience and refuse to participate in the use of an immoral medicine. Second, Catholics had a moral obligation to advance and support alternative ethical vaccines and medicines. Yet, morally illicit cells have been around for the past half century, and the pharmaceutical industry has made billions of dollars from vaccines that used these types of cells. Unfortunately, over that same span of time, there has been no concerted effort by established Catholic institutions, such as Catholic hospitals, colleges, universities, private foundations and philanthropists to support the development of ethical alternative vaccines and advanced medicines. Moreover, most secular private research organizations support the use of morally-illicit cells in medical research, and many Catholics are unaware that they are financially supporting these organizations. The John Paul II Medical Research Institute is one of the few private charities in the world that support medical research consistent with Catholic Church teaching.

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