Dan Becker, former President of Georgia Right to Life and author of Personhood: A Pragmatic Guide to Prolife Victory in the 21st Century and the Return to First Principles in Politics, was asked to write on the bio-ethics of COVID-19 vaccine development in light of the use of aborted fetus material in their research and development. Dan provided the following as a helpful guide to help people educate themselves when considering a Covid-19 vaccination. While not everyone will come to the same conclusion related to receiving a vaccination (the following information is not an official position of GF), we are all responsible to know the background and development of the vaccination options currently being made available.
In 2021, the two character traits that will make all the difference will be discernment and courage. Discernment is the ability to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. To see beyond the events of the day and recognize the underlying sources as to why those events are happening.Pastor Dan, Facing the Future, Dec. 31st, 2020
Let’s be honest—nothing is more inconvenient than Biblical Truth. I want to speak to the heart of the Pro-life cause in the 21st century . . . whether we Christians will exercise the discernment and courage needed to be salt and light to our neighbors in the coming years in areas of biblical worldview application.
Inconvenience is the root of abortion in our society. Bringing a child into the world interrupts our independence, education, finances, and job advancement. Thankfully, since the mid-1970s, the evangelical Church has taken a firm stand on the Truth “that man has worth because he is created in the Image of God”. Inconvenience notwithstanding—God’s Word, and Church history through the ages, has faithfully proclaimed the sanctity of human life.
Because we bear the image of God, all mankind, and, by extension, each and every human life has a “specialness” and worth that demands respect. God knows the child in the womb. (Ps 139:13-18) God’s Law says that “ a child shall not be put to death for the crimes of its parent [i.e., father]” (Dt 24:16 CEV). We infer from this that there is no licit exemption for rape or incest exceptions in anti-abortion law. This truth is very inconvenient to Christian legislators who would prefer to defend the less extreme position of allowing the rapist to live—at the same time, the child conceived in rape is executed.
Additionally, from its earliest stage of development, each human life is a unique Person that bears God’s likeness and should have the same protection of the law afforded other “persons” in our society. For this reason, all human life is to be respected in law. This respect is due regardless of the manner of conception, whether through the marital act, fertilized “in vitro” (IVF), or through the “ex utero” process of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT, otherwise known as cloning).
Human-animal hybrids and the advance of human knowledge
In 1972 an innocent child was murdered by abortion. Her body parts were harvested and trafficked for use in medical research. Her kidney became a human fetal kidney cell line called HEK-293. In 2020, the girl, known only as HEK-293, was injected into a mouse fetus so that the mouse developed “humanized lungs.” (Science calls these creatures “chimeras” or human-animal hybrids.) Human-animal hybrids are a particularly heinous mockery of the Imago Dei. These chimeras were then used to test the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for effectiveness. In fact, 6 of the 8 COVID-19 vaccines have needlessly used these abominations in their final trials.
Pastor John Piper was asked recently to address the larger issue, “Can I Take a Vaccine Made from Aborted Babies?” In my opinion, his response was biblical, succinct, and very inconvenient. His answer is NO! I would strongly encourage everyone to take a moment and listen to his biblical arguments. He refutes the idea of “Let us do evil that much good can come to our neighbor.” Unfortunately, it would appear from a comment by his editor that his biblical reasoning was not consistently applied to the final stages of the testing of the vaccine. Does this remove the unethical taint? Sarah Quale of Personhood.org asks, “If organizations and leaders are demanding that a vaccine be produced without the use of aborted fetal cells, then why aren’t they asking that a vaccine also be tested using the same standard?” I think this is an inconvenient question that each of us will need to consider.
Applied biblical worldview
There are currently several human cell lines that are ethically non-controversial and can be effectively used for testing vaccines:
- HEPG2—An immortalized human cell line from a hepatic cancer
- HeLA—An immortalized human cervical cell line
- A549—An immortalized human alveolar cell line, which would have been more appropriate to test COVID-19 because it targets the alveolar cells
- Alveolar cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from cord blood
- Human adult stem cells
All of these cell lines provide an acceptable, and in some cases, superior, alternative to using HEK-293.
Let us do evil that good may come?
The bodies of murdered children are currently being commoditized to procure all manner of cell lines to advance medical knowledge. “The end justifies the means.” This was the justification that the Nazi doctors used in the 1947 Nuremberg trials to defend their ghastly human experimentation. This defense was rejected by western allies, and 6 Nazi doctors were executed by hanging. This trial raised global awareness of unethical research. The Nuremberg Code for medical ethics was established and adopted as the standard of ethics for decades after WWII and became the foundation of modern medical research today. Central to its application was the fact that western allies refused to use the ethically compromised research. The use of tainted medical knowledge obtained by the Nazis came before the US EPA as recently as 1989. The EPA was looking into the effect of the poisonous gas phosgene on human lungs. The largest body of research available was that left by these Nazi “doctors.” The EPA rightly rejected this tainted science and pursued other ethical paths to research . . . an immensely inconvenient thing to do.
How should we then live?
My good friend, Dr. Matthew Clark—who is a reformed pastor and holds a Masters in Public Health from Harvard with a specific focus on pediatrics, allergy, and immunology—lends his expertise: “Let’s not allow sophistry to cloud the obvious issue. Baby-murder was the source of cells used to test most of the currently available COVID vaccines. Every Biblically-minded Christian should reflect deeply on this fact. To ignore or minimize this fact is to be pro-death, not pro-life.”
This chart has been produced by my good friend Dr. David Prentice formerly the Director of Science at James Dobson’s Family Research Council. There are 38 Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of development. It is estimated that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will not be widely available to the general public until the end of May. Several of the remaining 36 are perfectly acceptable and do not use cells from recently killed children in the vaccine’s production or testing.
My friends at the Personhood Alliance warn “that any effort to commodify aborted human beings in the design, production, and testing of vaccines will continue indefinitely unless and until Christians demand biomedical science be separated from the killing and trafficking of innocent human beings.”
As inconvenient as it may be, conscience, discernment and courage dictate that I will personally wait until a licit vaccine is available.
For additional consideration, see Al Mohler’s: Vaccines and the Christian Worldview: Principles for Christian Thinking in the Context of COVID.
6 Dr. Prentice does not take a position opposing the illicitly tested vaccines