Vaccines & Aborted Babies: Should Christians be Concerned?

This article is Part 1 of a 5-Part series on Vaccines. See the full list of (and links to) the rest in this series below.

You hear a lot about products being "ethically sourced" these days. Ethically sourced diamonds. Ethically sourced clothing. Ethically sourced food. It's even sort of trendy.

What about ethically sourced vaccines?

Well if you read what Joe Carter wrote regarding the issue in his post on vaccination, it doesn't seem like an issue we Christians need to worry much about. Is he right?

Carter starts off his section on aborted fetal tissues & vaccines with an interesting way of constructing the following statement. In attempting to stem the tide of concern of millions of Christians regarding this issue, Carter writes:

"There are currently no vaccines created by using cells directly taken from the bodies of aborted fetuses. However, there are some vaccines created from cell lines (such as WI-38, MRC-5, HEK-293, PER C6, and WI-26) that were derived from tissue taken from aborted fetuses from the 1960s."

You could phrase what Joe Carter stated another way: Aborted baby cell strains are used in vaccine development for vaccines currently on the CDC schedule.

Fetal Cells & Vaccines

The screen shot below is taken from the CDC Vaccine Excipient Summary. This table lists substances acknowledged by the vaccine manufacturer "as being contained in the final formulation of each vaccine." As you can see below in the chicken pox vaccine example, MRC-5, "human diploid cells, including DNA & protein" is included in the list of ingredients. 

The bottom line is that vaccine developers used cells of aborted babies to create the vaccines we use today. They were not passive actors, and according to the manufacturers themselves, certain elements from those aborted babies remain present in the vaccines. 

According to the CDC these vaccines developed from aborted baby cell strains are:

  • Adenovirus
  • DTaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel)
  • DTaP-IPV (Quadracel)
  • Hep A (Havrix)
  • Hep A (Vaqta)
  • Hep A/Hep B (Twinrix)
  • MMR (MMR-II)
  • MMRV (ProQuad)
  • Rabies (Imovax)
  • Varicella (Varivax)
  • Zoster (Shingles – Zostavax).

There are no U.S. approved vaccine alternatives which were not developed via abortion for Adenovirus, Chickenpox, Hepatitis A, Measles, Mumps, or Rubella.

The cell lines from two dead babies whose parents partnered with the vaccine developers are referred to (dehumanizingly) as MRC-5 (we'll call him Jack - he was a boy) and WI-38 (we'll call her Jill, she was a girl). Who were they? Both were about 3 and a half months when they were tragically killed in the womb. We are told Jill's parents had her killed because they already had too many children, and Jack's mother had him killed for "psychiatric" reasons. Neither child was deemed to be unhealthy in any way. Here is an MMR vaccine insert which lists Jill (Wi-38) under the description.

These candiates are not selected after the abortion but are meticulously screened prior to. Dr. Stanley Plotkin who developed the Rubella vaccine by using Jill's cells testifies:

“This fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children. There were no familial diseases in the history of either parent, and no history of cancer specifically in the families.”

Plotkin further testified that in one study alone 76 aborted babies were similarly used in the preparatory work for a single study he participated in and that he performed medical experiments on orphans, the mentally retarded, and babies whose mothers were in prison. 

Dr Peter McCullough, an Immunologist, wrote the book, The Fetus As Transplant Donor: The Scientific, Social, and Ethical Perspectives, on the methods used in harvesting fetal tissue in Sweden. He writes:

“They would puncture the sac of a pregnant woman at 14 to 16 weeks, put a clamp on the head of the baby, pull the head down into the neck of the womb, drill a hole into the baby’s head and attach a suction machine to remove the brain cells… At 16 to 21 weeks, they would do prostaglandin abortions where a chemical is injected into the womb causing the woman to go into mini-labor and pass the baby. Fifty percent of the time, the baby would be born alive, but that didn’t stop them. They would simply open up the abdomen of the baby with no anesthesia, and take out the liver and kidneys, etc.”

It's not like these researchers would just passively sort through discarded baby parts. They were actively involved in aborting the babies in such a way as to maximize access to "fresh" tissue. 

According to the National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) the reason they used aborted babies is because “human cells are preferred because cells derived from animal organs sometimes may carry animal viruses that could harm people."

Others, in agreement with McCullough, dispute the need for such practices to develop vaccines. Either way, if you adopt the CDC vaccination schedule, you can't avoid them. 

The Future of Aborted Babies and Vaccines 

Are there more vaccines like this coming to us in the future?

Joe Carter made an edit to his original post when he was alerted about Walvax-2 which ostensibly he was not aware of when he wrote his inital piece. 

"Update: Another cell line—Walvax-2—was created from an aborted fetus in China in 2015, though there currently do not appear to be any vaccines that use that cell line.)"

Except that the Walvax-2 cell is being developed for the express purpose of mass vaccination in China. Where did they get Walvax-2?

“We obtained 9 fetuses through rigorous screening based on carefully specified inclusion criteria… Walvax-2 was derived from a fetal lung tissue, similar to WI-38 and MRC-5, and was obtained from a 3-month old female fetus aborted because of the presence of a uterine scar from a previous caesarean birth by a 27-year old healthy woman.”

Tragically, in 2015 this baby girl (Walvax-2) was cut up into pieces at 3 months using the water bag method (illegal in the US), meaning they pulled out the child intact from her mother still in the sac and "extracted" the "tissues" from her dying body while she was still alive. We'll call her Jane. Jane was selected from among 9 other aborted babies chosen for the unethical development of the new cell line. And no, we can't rest easy because this is being done in China and not in the US since China is now selling vaccines internationally.

New "specimens" are needed because WI-38 and MRC-5 can't be used in perpetuity, so new cell lines are being developed

From the study linked above, published in 2015:

Human diploid cell strains (HDCSs), possessing identical chromosome sets known to be free of all known adventitious agents, are of great use in developing human vaccines. However it is extremely difficult to obtain qualified HDCSs that can satisfy the requirements for the mass production of vaccines. 

Next we see how this Walvax-2 is seen as superior to MRC-5 cells and that the diminishing supply of the original cells meant China saw the need to create more to meet future demand.

Specifically, Walvax-2 cells replicated more rapidly than MRC-5 cells, with Walvax-2 cells attaining the same degree of confluence in 48 hours as was reached by MRC-5 cells in 72 hours. Moreover, Walvax-2 cells attained 58 passages of cell doublings whereas MRC-5 reached 48 passages during this period.

What's going on with the original cells? Why the need for more?

Due to the diminishing supply of WI-38 cells, the MRC-5 line has become the most widely used cell strain in the production of HDCS-derived human vaccines... More specifically, the numbers of passages of the imported MRC-5 cells are generally higher, generally later than the 20th passage, resulting in restricted mass production due to decreased growth vitality

This realization of the limitations of the supply of current cell lines are not limited to those in China. The NIH, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, partnered with researchers to develop new cell lines from more aborted babies. 

“The cell line developed at Coriell, identified as IMR-90, was the first of several lines planned in support of NIA research programs and general cell biology research. IMR-90 was developed and characterized in such a way as to parallel WI-38 as closely as possible to minimize the variables in replacing WI-38 within ongoing laboratory programs...The IMR-90 cell line, like WI-38, was derived from the lung tissue of a human female embryo following therapeutic abortion... Since the goal of establishing this cell line was a replacement for WI-38 in vaccine production, virus yields (plaque-forming units) were compared for IMR-90, WI-38 and MRC-5 for a number of different viruses including varicella zoster, herpes simplex, vesicular stomatitits virus and cytomegalovirus. In all cases, yields from IMR-90 were comparable to those from the other cell lines, confirming its utility in this role.”

We can see that contrary to the narrative of some, continuing mass vaccination campaigns are indeed dependent on the continuing development of new cell lines which require more and more aborted babies. Is it reasonable for Christians to have ethical concerns about participating in such a system?

Fetal Cells & Vaccine Safety 

Beyond the moral questions (which are significant) there is also reason to be concerned about the safety of foreign human DNA being present in vaccines and whether the DNA can be oncogenic (cancerous). 

When researching this potential safety issue of foreign human DNA in vaccines, initial concerns were affirmed. A study published in the National Institutes of Health archive concluded:

"Vaccines manufactured in human fetal cell lines contain unacceptably high levels of fetal DNA fragment contaminants. The human genome naturally contains regions that are susceptible to double strand break formation and DNA insertional mutagenesis."

Another study conducted affirmed similar concerning results also affirming this problem of "insertional mutagenesis" which is associated with cancer. 

There are many of these studies which continue to show the unintended consequences of human fetal DNA in vaccines. In this case, autoimmunity induced disease and again insertional mutagenesis. 

Conclusion

No doubt, this is a complex issue. That being said, it is understandable why Christians might reasonably conclude there are significant moral hazards related to the development of vaccines and their use. Many Christians will be legitimately concerned that vaccination would require them to disobey the command to take no part in evil deeds of darkness but instead expose them (Eph 5:11) or particpate in a system predicated on the past or future continued slaughter of the unborn. It certainly isn't a "nothing burger" issue which we can glibly glide across. Frankly, that is how it seems Joe Carter treated this issue in his article. It is reasonable and rational for Christians to hold skepticism regarding the morality of the US Vaccination program's use of aborted babies and thus choose not to participate as a matter of conscience. We should not be given the impression that the civil magistrate would be in any way righteous in coercing vaccination against the wishes of parents. To the contary we should regard any such actions as tyrannical and evil.

Further Resources on Abortion and Vaccinations

Letter from Stanford PHD with doctorate in molecular and cellular phsyiology regarding concerns with fetal cell DNA in Vaccines. 

Response to Catholic Church statement on aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines. 

A paper on the ethics of HEK 293 (fetal cell line from induced abortion)

Disturbing transcript of deposition of Dr. Stanley Plotkin (regarded as the central figure in the development of vaccines from aborted fetal cells). 

 

>> Read the next article in this series, Part 2: Are Vaccines What Saved Us from Epidemics of Infectious Disease?

5 Counter Articles on Vaccines

Intro: The Gospel Coalition & Vaccines: A Response to Joe Carter

Part 1: Vaccines & Aborted Babies: Should Christians be Concerned?

Part 2: Are Vaccines What Saved Us from Epidemics of Infectious Disease?

Part 3: Is the US Vaccination Program Safe?

Part 4: What About Herd Immunity?

Part 5: Are Vaccine Skeptics Conspiracy Theorists?

Author

Jordan Wilson

Jordan Wilson is pursuing the Great Commission with his wife and children and is a regular contributor at New City Times.