Public Service Announcement
In Ephesians 5:11, the Word of God says: “Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” As a follower of Jesus, I wanted to make a public service announcement about the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines being widely distributed in 2021.
Throughout the past months of vaccine distribution, I heard it said from many sources that “Johnson and Johnson used replicated aborted fetal cells in the production of their vaccine, while Pfizer and Moderna did not.” That is true, but it is not the whole story.
Many Christians, having heard that story, have been willing to take the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on the basis of the fact that replicated aborted fetal cells were not used in their production. I do not judge them for doing so. I do not judge them in the least. I myself considered taking the vaccines for some time on this basis, and only refrained from doing so on the basis of other reasons – for example, that I had COVID, and therefore have some natural immunity, I have concerns about side effects from the vaccines, I am not concerned with getting COVID again, and I am concerned with suppression of information, the increasingly monolithic nature of the discussion, and mandating vaccine use against people’s individual consciences.
In this public service announcement, though, I simply wanted to spread the fact that, while Pfizer and Moderna did not use replicated aborted fetal cells in the development of their vaccines, they did indeed use such cells in the testing of their vaccines. Specifically, Pfizer and Moderna used the now rather famous HEK-293 cell line in the “confirmatory testing” of their vaccines. The Christian has every right to know this fact, to expose this fact when called to do so, and to make informed decisions on the basis of this fact.
The issue has become incredibly complicated, almost too complicated for everyday human ethics. But here is what we can say for certain:
– Johnson and Johnson used replicated aborted fetal cells in the “production or development” of their vaccine.
– Pfzer and Moderna used replicated aborted fetal cells in the “confirmatory testing” of their vaccines.
– The stem cell line used in the the testing of Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines is HEK-293. Here a related question often comes up: do we know that HEK-293 came from an abortion? There are a variety of opinions on this, and the information is clouded in much obscurity. At this point, the majority of good resources I can find say that HEK-293 came from an “elective abortion.” I believe that we can know with a fairly high degree of certainty that HEK-293 came from an elective abortion, based on the resources below. I am listing them here so that you can decide for yourself.
Here are the most helpful articles I have been able to find:
1) I started with this video. This is a helpful statement of the whole issue with good citations. This doctor cites the Catholic church’s stance, as well as an article from the Gospel Coalition, both of which have many flaws in their argumentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXbAKfoXEsQ
2) Here is a reputable graph showing precisely how stem cells were used in production AND testing of each of the currently developed vaccines:
3) Here is a Catholic article on the ethics of stem cells. I do not support Catholic theology or Catholic ethics, but this article provides some helpful research concerning the origins of HEK-293. I agree with this writer that the burden should be on health officials to provide clear and decisive information about the source of HEK-293: https://www.pdcnet.org/C1257D43006C9AB1/file/5265B61D5497F52585257D94004802BB/$FILE/ncbq_2006_0006_0003_0077_0099.pdf
4) Here is a quick video about how the stem cells now largely used were from “mothers who no longer wished to have their pregnancies.” He says, “we no longer need new fetuses.” This doesn’t speak directly to the issue of testing (not just production) using stem cells, but it does speak to the widely held view that the stem cells typically used for vaccines were from elective abortions. I don’t believe the fact that “we no longer need new fetuses” justifies the use of stem cell lines from murdered babies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to8SI6eDVbY
5) This article has more information, but I don’t believe the author’s ethical reasoning is sound or biblical: https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2020/05/63752/
6) I believe this is sound Christian reasoning on the whole, and as far as I can find, his sources are well documented: http://www.increasinglearning.com/blog/vaccines
7) This article from Joe Carter at the Gospel Coalition can be compared with #6. Carter seems to have a different take on how these replicated fetal cells were initially obtained. According to him, the initial obtaining was not unethical, and to suggest it was is slanderous. I do not find his arguments compelling, but I am sharing it because it is immediately pertinent and might provide helpful information. I believe his parallel to organ donors is not logically or ethically sound at all: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-faqs-fetal-cells-covid-19-vaccines-treatments/
8) The author of #6 quotes the following transcript. On page 81 here, the doctor who worked on HEK-293 does refer to it as coming from an abortion, though he says, “The reasons for the abortion were unknown to me.” As far as I can tell, this source is legitimate: https://web.archive.org/web/20170516050447/https:/www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/01/transcripts/3750t1_01.pdf
Three Common Counter-Arguments
Knowing all of the above, however, people often proceed to make a variety of arguments to lessen the severity of the news of Pfizer and Moderna’s use of replicated aborted fetal cells in the testing of their vaccines.
For example, the Catholic church is arguing that, no matter how replicated aborted fetal cells were used in the development or production of these vaccines, the good of vaccines far outweighs the ill done to the aborted babies from whom the cells were replicated. That is called a utilitarian argument – like arguing that you can leave your grandma to die in a burning building if, in doing so, you can save two very useful scientists from the same building. The Christian, however, is not a utilitarian, and we are not called to weigh good and evil, but rather to call evil evil, call good good, and expose those who do not do so (see Isaiah 5:20, Prov 17:15, and Luke 11:35).
On the other hand, some people will argue that using replicated aborted fetal cells in testing is not as bad as using them in production, so we ought to proceed to use these vaccines. Here we need to consider the logic of child sacrifice. Sacrificing a child in the womb on the altar of convenience is inhuman. But the baby who was murdered to make HEK-293 has had more injustice done to him or her than a mere murder. That murder has then been used sacrificially for a variety of other ends – for replication, for the cellular makeup of future products, and for the testing of future products. It is right to see this sacrifice not as something noble and restorative, but rather as something barbaric and very, very sinister. Supporting any stage of that sacrifice – the baby’s death, cell replication, cell use for product development, or cell use for product testing – is reminiscent of child sacrifices to pagan deities such as Molech in Leviticus 18:21. It is not just murder for the mother’s convenience; it is murder for mass consumption.
As a final example, some – like Joe Carter in the Gospel Coalition Article (#7 above) – will argue like this: “Since most people would be fine taking an organ donation from an organ doner who was murdered, it should be ethically sound to receive medical benefits from a child murdered many decades ago.” The argument against this way of thinking is simple: the child in the womb did not have any chance to express his or her will that his or her cells could be used in this way. Moreover, the child did not have a chance to live.
I personally believe that taking vaccines that have been tested on replicated aborted fetal cells is not an ethical option for Christians, nor should it be an option for humans. But my primary purpose in writing this is not convince you of that. I am writing simply to make sure that this information about the testing of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is exposed and widely available.
I pray that these thoughts and resources will help you make informed decisions, stand up for life in the womb, expose evil, and proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners like you and me. Let us repent and believe the gospel. Let us turn from the world and trust Jesus. Let us leave our sin and love Him.