Bishops, doctors, bioethicists urge Trudeau gov’t to fund COVID-19 vaccine without ties to abortion
ONTARIO, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of Canadian Catholic bishops, doctors, and scholars have sent a joint letter to the Canadian prime minister calling for his government to fund an ethical coronavirus vaccine not derived from fetal cells harvested from aborted babies decades ago
The letter, dated May 21, was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and copied to the Canadian health minister, Patty Hajdu.
It includes the signatures of Winnipeg archbishop Richard Gagnon (president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops); Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute; Helen McGee, president-elect of the National Association of Catholic Nurses of Canada; and Archbishop Sotirios, chairman of the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops.
The letter urges the Trudeau government to fund “alternative” vaccines that are not made using fetal cells harvested from aborted babies years ago and to make ethically sourced vaccines available to Canadians.
The letter does not explicitly say one should not use the first coronavirus vaccine that is made available. However, it does recommend that an ethically sourced vaccine be offered to those who consciously object to a vaccine with a fetal cell line lineage.
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“We endorse the earliest possible development of safe, effective anti-viral vaccines and the broadest uptake of vaccination. We urge your government to fund the development of vaccines that do not create an ethical dilemma for many Canadians,” says the letter.
“On one hand, the wide uptake of vaccines is essential to protect citizens from the transmission of disease. On the other, a vaccine produced using abortion- derived cell lines raises conscience concerns for anyone who might be offered that vaccine and is aware of its lineage. This dilemma will emerge if there are no alternatives to vaccines developed with the use of human fetal cell lines obtained from elective abortions.”
The letter includes signatures from various other Canadian Catholic bioethics groups, such as the Catholic Civil Rights League, Priests for Life Canada, and St. Michael’s University.
McQueen told LifeSiteNews that the letter came about because of conversations between her and Helen McGee regarding ethical vaccines.
McQueen said another factor in penning the correspondence was the April letter from the U.S. Catholic bishops and pro-life leaders. This letter asked the Trump administration to ensure that Americans will have access to coronavirus vaccines that are “free from any connection to abortion.”
“We decided to compose a letter for the PM, and contacted different people and organizations, most of whom signed on to our final version,” said McQueen to LifeSiteNews.
McQueen said the intent of the letter is to ask the Trudeau government to ensure that there is an alternative ethical vaccine made available for those who want it.
“The main point is to ensure that those of us who object to unethical vaccines, no matter which company or group is the manufacturer, will be able to receive morally acceptable ones. The research for those is also underway and has a good chance of success,” said McQueen to LifeSiteNews.
Last week, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) announced a collaboration with the Chinese firm CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO) to test its trial coronavirus vaccine, known as Ad5-nCoV, in Canada.
LifeSiteNews reported that the vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV uses the HEK293 cell line, which is made from fetal cells harvested from an aborted baby decades ago and is the property of the NRC.
Trudeau announced last Saturday that Health Canada approved the coronavirus vaccine Ad5-nCoV to be used in human clinical trials.
Earlier this week, Dr. Kulvinder Gill, the president and co-founder of Concerned Ontario Doctors, warned that the Canadian government’s new deal with China to produce a coronavirus vaccine is a “dangerous endeavour” and that Canada should instead fund vaccine trials with allied nations.
The letter says the use of coronavirus vaccine candidates “derived from elective abortions” such as “PER.C6 and HEK 293” are ethically unacceptable.
“Our ethical objections relate to the use of this abortion-derived lineage, both the destruction and the exploitation of unique human lives,” says the letter.
“The subsequent manufacture of vaccines using such ethically-tainted human cell lines demonstrates profound disrespect for the dignity of the human person.”
The 2008 document Dignitatis Personae from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith condemned the use of aborted fetal tissue research. The document says that for “grave reasons” such as “danger to the health of children,” parents are allowed to use a vaccine “developed using cell lines of illicit origin.” The document also says one must keep in mind that “everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available.”
The letter lists examples of vaccines under development that do not use aborted fetal cell lines, which the signatories say are acceptable, such as one being developed by Dr. Wilfred Jefferies, a Vancouver immunologist at the University of British Columbia.
Recently, LifeSiteNews reported that Vancouver archbishop Michael Miller donated to Jefferies’s project after being assured that his vaccine research is free from the use of aborted fetal cells.
In closing, the letter refers to Dr. David Prentice of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, who lists coronavirus vaccines undergoing tests that are ethical and unethical.
McQueen said to LifeSiteNews that Dr. Prentice was helpful in highlighting ethical vaccine candidates.
“Dr. Prentice was very helpful in indicating which vaccines are ethical (some don't even use cell lines) and which are not. He also listed some that, at the minute, may or may not be ethical, but that will become clearer.”