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TYLER, Texas, April 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas said he “will refuse” a potential vaccine for the coronavirus if it is made using tissue from “aborted children.”
In a tweet, he expressed his sadness over the fact that “even with Covid-19 we are still debating the use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.”
So sad…even with Covid-19 we are still debating the use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research…let me go on record…if a vaccine for this virus is only attainable if we use body parts of aborted children then I will refuse the vaccine…I will not kill children to live
— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) April 8, 2020
Pro-life organization Children of God for Life, which focuses on the question of ethical vaccines, had found out that several of the leading COVID-19 vaccine developments are using aborted fetal cells.
Debi Vinnedge, executive director of Children of God for Life, said “her heart sank when she discovered that Spike protein,” which is part of a vaccine being developed by Moderna, “was produced using HEK 293 aborted fetal cells.”
Similarly, a vaccine developer owned by Johnson & Johnson “is using [its] PER C6 Ad5 technology, derived from an aborted baby’s retinal tissue.”
According to Children of God for Life, during a hearing of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a physician revealed how he harvested the fetal cells.
“So I isolated retina from a fetus, from a healthy fetus as far as could be seen, of 18 weeks old,” Alex van der Eb said. “There was nothing special with a family history or the pregnancy was completely normal up to the 18 weeks, and it turned out to be a socially indicated abortus — abortus provocatus, and that was simply because the woman wanted to get rid of the fetus[.] … [W]hat was written down was unknown father, and that was, in fact, the reason why the abortion was requested.”
He then admitted that “PER C6 was made just for pharmaceutical manufacturing of adenovirus vectors[.] … And then pharmaceutical industry standard. I realize that this sounds a bit commercial, but PER C6 were made for that particular purpose.”
In a press release, Children of God for Life explained how “in most seasonal flu vaccines, the need to produce large quantities of vaccine quickly has been a problem for many years as pharmaceutical companies used chicken eggs to cultivate their viruses. It takes several months and millions of eggs needed to produce the vaccines and so many companies began to turn to other cell lines for faster production.”
However, Vinnedge pointed to another company, Sanofi, using a platform based on insect cells. “Their Sf9 cell line comes from the fall armyworm and is highly effective as a rapid growth medium. It has been used for several years in producing influenza vaccines.”
For now, Bishop Strickland appears to be on his own among the bishops in speaking out regarding the unethical use of aborted fetal tissue in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Strickland is no stranger to being on his own when it comes to questions of principle. At the end of March, he refused to sign a “Statement on Scarce Healthcare Resources” by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strickland explained his decision, saying the TCCB statement, “while flowing from a laudable concern for the difficult challenges faced by health care professionals in respect to limited resources, fails to show a due regard for the importance of law and amounts to asking Governor Abbot to abandon the excellent laws he has helped put in place to protect the vulnerable.”
The bishop admitted the difficulty of making the correct decision in life-and-death situations when resources are limited. “Fortunately, and rightly, the law itself has a degree of flexibility in it that enables judges to be prudent and take into account factors that may lead to questionable decisions not motivated by malice of any kind but rather by misguided compassion.”
In this regard, Strickland called on judges, juries, and the public to be understanding, giving the benefit of the doubt to the people working in health care. “But to suspend the law altogether is to remove a major incentive for ensuring that due diligence is exercised in difficult times and puts the ill, vulnerable, poor, and marginalized at risk.”
The bishop of Tyler recalled that there are certain principles of moral theology that always have to be applied. “For example, the family should always be consulted and considered in making vital moral decisions such as these.” Similarly, the elderly, the disabled, and the most vulnerable “should always be protected and shown a love of preference,” as they are “the poor in our midst, during this pandemic.”