Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 70(3) August 2020

Catholic bishops implore U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop COVID-19 vaccine “free from any connection to abortion

injectionAn open letter signed by Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, and other pro-life advocates has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “help to ensure that Americans will have access to [COVID-19] vaccines that are free from any connection to abortion”. John Smeaton, SPUC Chief Executive, said: “SPUC applauds such vigilance and leader­ship that holds health authorities to account at a time of global crisis.”

The statement, which was also sent to President Trump, voiced its concern that, “among the dozens of [COVID-19] vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies”.

Thanking the FDA “for all of its efforts to combat the virus”, the letter, signed by four Catholic bishops, published last week, stated that it “is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience”.

The letter continued: “To be clear, we strongly support efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible. However, we also strongly urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most impor­tantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”

Fortunately”, the letter continues, “there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines.”

The letter highlighted the positive examples of such organisations as Sanofi Pasteur, Inovio and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, which are developing vaccines “not connected to unethical procedures and methods”.