By Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director, Louisiana Right to Life
On behalf of pro-life citizens across Louisiana, I applaud Archbishop Gregory Aymond for providing critical information to the public about the presence of abortion-derived cells in the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Knowing that he would face criticism, Archbishop Aymond chose to inform Catholics of the reality that the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine used abortion-derived cells in the production of the vaccine.
Many citizens are concerned about this moral issue surrounding the production of these vaccines, even though it is understood that the intentions of the vaccines are for the common-good.
Most references in the media to the reality of the abortion-derived cells are callous and impersonal, ignoring the reality that this all begin with an abortion that brutally took the life of an innocent healthy human person whose heart was beating. The abortion-derived cell line in this vaccine were harvested from the retina of an 18-week unborn baby aborted in 1985. This living human child never consented to have her cell’s used in this manner. Yes, the cells in use now in the vaccine were replicated from the original cells from that child, but without the broken body of that child, this cell line would not be present today.
For us as a society to be merely content to look the other way would be to forget the tragedy that, at the beginning of this cell line, an innocent living human person was killed. Had this child never been aborted, she would be a 36 year-old adult today, with a life all her own.
While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines used these cells in the testing of the vaccine, they did not use aborted cells in the production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, used the abortion-derived cells in the actual production of the vaccine. While we would prefer the abortion-derived cells to not be used at all, Archbishop Aymond’s statement is correct that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is more “morally compromised.”
The Archbishop’s encouragement is that citizens should seek to take the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “if the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is available,” leaving the decision ultimately to the individual’s conscience. The Archbishop’s statement is completely in unison with statements from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
And don’t forget that, in April of 2020, right after the start of the pandemic, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to the FDA urging them to refrain from using the abortion-derived cells in any Covid vaccine. It should be no surprise, then, that Archbishop Aymond, and the Bishop’s nationwide, are raising this issue.
In her article criticizing the Archbishop on March 2nd, Stephanie Grace includes references to others who she believes “undermine” the fight against Covid-19. It is unfair to include the Archbishop in this group. He has never undermined this fight. From the beginning of the pandemic, Archbishop Aymond has been a leader in working to limit the spread of Covid-19. But the Archbishop cannot turn a blind eye to moral concerns, even if these moral concerns present themselves in the pursuit of the common good. And neither should we.
We are urging citizens of all backgrounds to contact your elected officials, the FDA, and the companies who make these vaccines and urge them to stop the production of future vaccines and medicines that use these abortion-derived cell lines. If we do not make our voices heard, this practice will never stop.