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Bishop chairmen urge FDA to develop ethical vaccine for COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Four bishop chairmen of committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have urged Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to ensure that vaccines for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) are developed ethically and are free from any connection to the exploitation of abortion.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend and chairman of the Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette and chairman of the Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues, signed the letter to the FDA Commissioner. They were joined by the leaders of many healthcare, bioethics, and pro-life organizations.

Also among those who expressed support was Denver’s Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

“It is a tragedy that the remains of children who were killed by abortion are being exploited to develop vaccines, including some in development for COVID-19,” Archbishop Aquila said in a statement. “I urge all people who believe that life is sacred at every stage to speak out against the unethical use of these cells in vaccines. Please contact your lawmakers and the pharmaceutical companies making these vaccines to tell them not to force people to choose between their conscience and protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.”

The letter expressed strong support for efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible, but also strongly urged that the federal government “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”

The letter noted that “among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies.” Furthermore, “there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used,” the signers stated. “It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.”

To view all of the signatories and to read the full text of the letter, click here.


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