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"Should a government agency or private company use tissue from induced abortions for vaccine development or other research? The Catholic bishops have answered in the negative," the bishops wrote.
The USCCB continued, "The federal government is choosing here and now to cooperate with researchers who have destroyed human embryos, and even in some cases to reward them with research grants (since these researchers have the most immediate access to the cell lines thereby created). Moreover, the link between the government's actions and the destruction of human embryos is even closer here than in the case of vaccine companies using fetal tissue from abortions, because in the present case the taking of human life was done precisely in order to provide cells for research (and in some cases precisely to qualify for federal research grants)."
Here are the two documents:
Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Vaccines using Fetal Tissue
To defend his recent decision on stem cell research, President Bush has compared it to the moral judgment that it may be acceptable to use a vaccine cultured in fetal tissue that ultimately came from induced abortions. The President's analogy is invalid because it blurs together two very different questions arising from the use of fetal tissue in medical research:
Should a government agency or private company use tissue from induced abortions for vaccine development or other research? The Catholic bishops have answered in the negative. Such use tends to legitimize abortion as a source of "life-affirming" treatments, and requires collaboration with the abortion industry, which should be avoided. This judgment is reflected in policies governing Catholic health care. See Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (4th edition, 2001): "Catholic health care institutions need to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers" (Directive 45), and "Catholic health care institutions should not make use of human tissue obtained by direct abortions even for research and therapeutic purposes" (Directive 66).
If such collaboration with abortion has already taken place, and the only vaccine made available for serious diseases contains material that was cultured in fetal tissue from an abortion, may Catholics -- out of concern for their own health or that of their children or the community � submit to this vaccine without committing serious sin? Most Catholic moralists have replied in the affirmative. The recipient of the vaccine took no part in decisions to base the vaccine on this morally unacceptable source, but is coping with the results of immoral decisions made by others.
It is invalid to cite moral opinions about question (2) to avoid the moral problem posed by question (1). The federal government is choosing here and now to cooperate with researchers who have destroyed human embryos, and even in some cases to reward them with research grants (since these researchers have the most immediate access to the cell lines thereby created).
Moreover, the link between the government's actions and the destruction of human embryos is even closer here than in the case of vaccine companies using fetal tissue from abortions, because in the present case the taking of human life was done precisely in order to provide cells for research (and in some cases precisely to qualify for federal research grants).
If treatments ultimately result from this decision, Catholics will face a new form of question (2): Whether in conscience they can accept such treatments that rely on the destruction of human life. Here the moral dilemma will be even more difficult, because in this case human life was destroyed specifically to obtain these cells for research and treatment. Use of embryonic stem cells in successful treatments will increase the demand for future destruction of embryos to provide an adequate supply of tissue for thousands or millions of patients. That will pose a new and serious moral dilemma for pro-life Americans who suffer from serious diseases.
Conscience Exemption for Vaccines based on Fetal Tissue from Abortions
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. This creates a problem of conscience for some Catholic parents.
The Moral Reflections released by the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005 have been welcomed by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Our Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities agrees with the National Catholics Bioethics Center, the Catholic Medical Association, and others that manufacturers should be urged to make alternative vaccines more widely available so that Catholics and others will not face this moral dilemma.
In cases where no alternative is currently available, the Academy said that Catholics may licitly accept vaccination for themselves and their children using a vaccine based on tissue from abortion or may refuse the vaccine �if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health.� The Academy specifically cited the potential threat to pregnant women and their unborn children from a failure to vaccinate for rubella (German measles).
Risk to the public health is a factual question. Risk may vary from place to place and from one time to another in the same location; even with the same set of facts, different medical experts may come to different conclusions about the severity of the risk (or about how to weigh that against the conscientious objection of a parent). Therefore, it is not surprising that different Catholic school districts, for example, have developed different policies regarding a �conscience exemption� in such cases.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities received inquiries from dioceses on how to respond to such cases. In March of 2007, the Committee discussed the issue and decided to recommend that diocesan institutions show a willingness to grant the exemption along the lines recommended by the Academy. In particular, in an area where public schools are granting a conscience exemption, based on the view of public health authorities that doing so does not pose a serious risk to the population, Catholic institutions should be willing to do so as well.
What Catholic schools may be required, or permitted, to do under civil law in responding to a parent�s wish to waive immunization may also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from one set of circumstances to another. For example, as of 2015, 48 of the 50 states allowed a religious exemption, and 20 allowed a broader philosophical or �conscience� exemption, but some of these laws were limited (for example, some may relate only to certain types of schools, or allow an exemption only if a parent objects to vaccination in general or belongs to a religious denomination that requires member to reject it.)1 Therefore, the responses of Catholic schools to requests for waivers may likewise vary. Even if a Catholic institution wished to defer to a parent�s request for an exemption, medical and legal realities may make it difficult to do so.
A long-term solution lies in working to ensure that future vaccines and other medicines are not based on cooperation with practices demeaning human life. This applies to products based on abortion, as well as to projected therapies from destruction of human embryos for their stem cells.
Released, April 2007
1 The National Conference of State Legislatures periodically updates its list of such laws at http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx. Diocesan attorneys should be consulted on this issue to discuss the latest state laws and local policies.
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Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened.com, Infowars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, Economic Policy Journal, TargetLiberty.com, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association, AmericanFreePress.net, RomanCatholicReport.com, WorldNetDaily, HenryMakow.com, OverdriveOnline.com, Educate-Yourself.org, TexeMarrs.com, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show, Strike-The-Root.com, Pasadena Weekly, ActivistPost.com, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640, IamtheWitness.com, Redlands Daily Facts, SaveTheMales.ca, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense.com, FromTheTrenchesWorldReport.com, BeforeItsNews.com, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, CopBlock.org, DavidIcke.com, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer, Antiwar.com, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com and DontWakeMeUp.Org.
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