The only vaccines readily available in the United States for some contagious diseases (e.g., rubella and Hepatitis A) have been manufactured using fetal tissue from induced abortions.
However, the FDA recently approved a new shingles vaccine (Shingrix®) that does not use aborted fetal cell lines, and has given it a preferential recommendation over the only other available, and morally problematic, shingles vaccine on the market.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended the use of Shingrix® over the only other available alternative (Merck’s Zostavax®, which is produced using a cell line derived from an elective abortion) because Shingrix® is so much more effective.
As recommended by the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005, we should be working to ensure that vaccines and other medicines are not based on cooperation with practices that demean human life. This applies to products based on abortion, as well as to projected therapies from destruction of human embryos for their stem cells.
Pro-Life leaders from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are urging all people of good will to encourage pharmaceutical companies and health care systems to create and distribute morally acceptable products that are not linked to elective abortion.
The availability of vaccines that are not derived from cell lines from elective abortion is a significant development for building a Culture of Life in America.
The ACIP’s recommendation of Shingrix® exposes and refutes the myth that scientists need fetal tissue from elective abortion to create cures. While this myth has been utilized for decades, it has been advanced most recently in three key battles over the Culture of Life. For example:
- In 2001, a group of Nobel prize-winning scientists attempted to convince President Bush to permit federal funds to be used for destructive research to obtain human embryonic stem cells by appealing to the precedent of using fetal tissue from elective abortion to produce vaccines;
- In 2009, to help justify the decision of President Obama to provide the federal funding that President Bush had denied, scientists gave public testimony also appealing to the precedent of using fetal tissue from elective abortion to produce vaccines for rubella and varicella (chickenpox);
- More recently, during the 2015 video exposé of Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts of aborted children, scientists again were sought out by the media to repeat the myth that obtaining tissue from elective abortion was indispensable for curing diseases, pointing to its use in the production of vaccines.
To learn more visit the National Catholic Bioethics Resource Center. https://www.ncbcenter.org/resources/news/