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PHILADELPHIA, March 5, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — An ecumenical coalition of Christian medical groups urged civil authority to respect conscience rights regarding vaccination for COVID-19. 

The Catholic Medical Association; the National Association of Catholic Nurses, U.S.A.; the American College of Pediatricians; and the Christian Medical and Dental Association issued a “Joint Statement on Vaccines and Conscience Protection” on March 2. The signers insist that governments must respect the right of an individual to accept or refuse a vaccine. 

“There is no justifiable moral obligation to accept vaccination,” they wrote.  

“If a vaccine has been developed, tested, or produced with technology that an individual deems morally unacceptable, such as the use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines, vaccine refusal is morally acceptable,” the signers continued.  

“An individual’s decision to be vaccinated will also depend upon their personal assessment of the medical risks, a choice that should be respected. The decision not to be vaccinated must be accompanied by a commitment to take necessary precautions to lessen disease transmission.” 

In the statement, the group reflected on the unprecedented “limitations in personal freedoms” Americans have suffered since the COVID-19 coronavirus reached the United States more than a year ago. While sympathetic to the need to protect the vulnerable from the disease, the group is wary of “threats to individual liberties.” 

Of particular concern is the specter of coerced vaccination.   

“It is fundamental that the right of individual conscience be preserved,” the medical professionals stated. 

“Coerced vaccination would irreparably harm Constitutional rights and the patient-physician relationship,” they added. “Conscience is an individual belief influenced by many factors such as faith, culture, family, and reason. Each individual makes a conscientious decision in any given situation. Respect for conscience rights is always of primary importance.”

The coalition did not show opposition to the experimental vaccines themselves. In fact, they referred to them as a “sliver of hope” and argued for their fair distribution among the most vulnerable, particularly in “underserved” and rural communities. However, they stressed that there were “ethical concerns” at every stage of the vaccines’ use: their manufacture, distribution, and — especially — administration. 

“While the pandemic remains a significant public health crisis, the individual rights of American citizens also remains of paramount importance,” the coalition concluded.

“The guarantee of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ includes the right to make individual health care decisions while taking into account our responsibility for the common good.”

In November 2020, three of the signatories, together with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released a joint statement asking for the development of ethical vaccines that do not rely on any way on the use of material derived from aborted babies. 

Meanwhile, reports of serious side effects in several countries continue to pour in. Researchers have published their findings showing that there was a significant uptick in COVID-19 deaths in Israel during a five-week period mass vaccinations. The British government has published its most recent “Yellow Card” report detailing the incidence of suspected side effects of the vaccine, which include blindness, deafness, and death.