This week the Pontifical Academy for Life responded to a request by an American woman seeking moral guidance on the issue of vaccinations that were derived from aborted fetuses.

Here is the PDF file with the 8 page response, which is very detailed and informative. The document lists the cell lines that are derived from aborted fetuses and analyzes the moral culpability of those with various degrees of involvement in the use of these tainted vaccines.

Here is the meat of it as pertains to those of us parents who are forced to deal with the decision to use these vaccinations or not:

As regards those who need to use such vaccines for reasons of health, it must be emphasized that, apart from every form of formal cooperation, in general, doctors or parents who resort to the use of these vaccines for their children, in spite of knowing their origin (voluntary abortion), carry out a form of very remote mediate material cooperation, and thus very mild, in the performance of the original act of abortion, and a mediate material cooperation, with regard to the marketing of cells coming from abortions, and immediate, with regard to the marketing of vaccines produced with such cells. The cooperation is therefore more intense on the part of the authorities and national health systems that accept the use of the vaccines.

However, in this situation, the aspect of passive cooperation is that which stands out most. It is up to the faithful and citizens of upright conscience (fathers of families, doctors, etc.) to oppose, even by making an objection of conscience, the ever more widespread attacks against life and the "culture of death" which underlies them. From this point of view, the use of vaccines whose production is connected with procured abortion constitutes at least a mediate remote passive material cooperation to the abortion, and an immediate passive material cooperation with regard to their marketing. Furthermore, on a cultural level, the use of such vaccines contributes in the creation of a generalized social consensus to the operation of the pharmaceutical industries which produce them in an immoral way.

Therefore, doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines (if they exist), putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available. They should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human foetal origin. Equally, they should oppose by all means (in writing, through the various associations, mass media, etc.) the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared, which are not connected with the abortion of a human foetus, and requesting rigorous legal control of the pharmaceutical industry producers.

As regards the diseases against which there are no alternative vaccines which are available and ethically acceptable, it is right to abstain from using these vaccines if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health. However, if the latter are exposed to considerable dangers to their health, vaccines with moral problems pertaining to them may also be used on a temporary basis. The moral reason is that the duty to avoid passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is grave inconvenience. Moreover, we find, in such a case, a proportional reason, in order to accept the use of these vaccines in the presence of the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent, due to the lack of vaccination of children. This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles.

In any case, there remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously and unethically. However, the burden of this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population - especially with regard to pregnant women.

To summarize, it must be confirmed that:
-there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems;
- as regards the vaccines without an alternative, the need to contest so that others may be prepared must be reaffirmed, as should be the lawfulness of using the former in the meantime insomuch as is necessary in order to avoid a serious risk not only for one's own children but also, and perhaps more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole - especially for pregnant women;
- the lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense, also active, morally justified as an extrema ratio due to the necessity to provide for the good of one's children and of the people who come in contact with the children (pregnant women);
- such cooperation occurs in a context of moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.

My reading of this is that it's OK for us to grudgingly use these vaccines, provided that there are no licit alternatives and that we reject the procedures by which they were obtained and do our best however we can to fight the injustice by which they were derived.

I called Christie Clinic here in Champaign, and a nurse explained to me that they order their vaccines through the pharmacy, and they may have different vaccines they use at different times. She did, however, tell me that the doctor or nurse we see when vaccination time comes could let us know what vaccines are available at that time, so I will make sure we always have the list with us when we go in.

Also, a friend emailed me the Children of God website, which has this more detailed list that also lists alternatives..

A nice local way to organize would be to circulate petitions among families stating our desire for morally licit vaccinations, and then present the petitions to the local hospitals and clinics to encourage them to stock the licit alternatives.

Nationally, the same petitions could be sent to drug companies (the Children of God site has a petition here). Even if the drug companies don't care about the value of the human life destroyed, the desire for profit (the ol' invisible hand does come in handy occasionally) may lead the companies to create licit lines and make them more readily available.

So, while the Vatican says that in the interest of protecting our children, it is acceptable to use these vaccines when there are no others available, let's also remember the call to oppose these lines in every possible way, and do what we can in prayer and action to ensure that families don't have to choose between cooperating (however remotely) with evil and leaving our children unprotected.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on July 28, 2005 7:59 AM.

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