Do Ebola Vaccines Need to Use Embryonic Stem Cell Lines?

laboratoryA new controversy is brewing over government backing of Ebola vaccines that are using aborted fetal cell lines even though vaccines developed from moral alternatives are just as effective.

LifeNews is reporting on the dilemma which could put this much-needed vaccine beyond the reach of persons who morally object to the use of embryonic stem cells.

Debi Vinnedge, director of the pro-life group, Children of God for Life, reports that several large drug manufacturers such as Glaxo SmithKline and Johnson & Johnson are using cells derived from human embryonic kidney cells and retinal tissue from an 18-week gestation aborted baby. This is in spite of the fact that the U.S. Department of Health listed other options such as yeast, insect, plant, bacteria and other substances   in their own patent.

“There is absolutely no reason to use aborted fetal cell lines,” Vinnedge told LifeNews. “At least two other Ebola vaccines in development by the University of Texas and GeoVax are using either Vero cells or chicken eggs. Likewise, there are therapeutic products such as ZMapp (LeafBio) and TKM-Ebola (Tekmira) that are using plant or Vero cells.”

She added: “It is completely irresponsible of this Administration to put these problem vaccines on fast-track for approval and ignore the fact that a massive number of people may very well refuse them.  Why not fast track a product that everyone can use in good conscience?”

Even though a person is morally free to use a vaccine created from stem cells from aborted fetuses, we’re only supposed to do so until such time as new vaccines become available.

ebola virusAccording to a FAQ appearing on the National Catholic Bioethics Center website, this is because “the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine.”

However, we are expected to do all that we can to insure that moral alternatives are made available, such as writing to pharmaceutical companies to make these requests. We should also register a complaint with the manufacturers of a morally unacceptable product any time we are forced to use it.

This is an acceptable form of conscientious objection because it “signals opposition to the wider, morally reprehensible practice of using the unborn as little more than research material for science. There is no moral obligation to register such a complaint in order to use these vaccines.”

Now would be a good time to insure that vaccines in development for such a life-threatening disease as Ebola are morally licit. Please write to the following government agencies to request that they refrain from using stem cells from aborted babies in these products.


Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary
Dept of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue
Washington, DC 20201

Dr Francis S. Collins, Director
National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD  20892

Dr Anthony Fauci, Director
NIAID Office of Communications and Government Relations
5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806
Bethesda, MD 20892-9806

Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

Click here to view a list of all aborted fetal products and moral alternatives.

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