Vatican on Covid-19 vaccine developed with fetal tissue: acceptable in case of no alternatives

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The issue on the use of vaccines is often at the center of public debate. Even more so in recent months as laboratories have developed Covid-19 vaccines.

Some scientists raised concerns about the morality of these vaccines since, in some cases, tissue from aborted fetuses was used to test their effectiveness.

Anscombe Bioethics Center

“Some methods don’t use cells at all, and some use cells from animals or plants. Unfortunately, some methods use cell lines originally developed from tissue taken from an aborted baby. These are cell lines that have been circulating for decades in labs throughout the world. So obviously, those cells do create questions of conscience.”

With the pope’s approval, the Vatican has responded that in this case, cooperation with abortion is “remote and passive” and that if no other vaccine is available, it can be used.

In this document from December, the U.S. bishops explain that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do not pose ethical problems. However, they did consider the AstraZeneca vaccine production process to be problematic.

The U.S. bishops said that the AstraZeneca vaccine could be used if there are no alternatives.

The Vatican adds that in no way does it legitimize abortion and that “opposition to this practice by those who resort to these vaccines is assumed.”

That is why the Vatican asks pharmaceutical companies and governments to produce, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience, neither to health personnel nor to vaccinated individuals.

The Vatican says that vaccination should be voluntary, though it recommends it. It reminds us that morally it is not only a matter of “protecting one’s health but also of the duty to pursue the common good.”

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