I looked through the CMF website at their Briefing paper When demand outstrips supply: A Christian view of the ethics of healthcare resource allocation during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“The British Medical Association (BMA) has recently produced guidance around the ethical issues presented by the COVID-19pandemic.8 NICE has also produced a rapid guideline for adult critical care during the pandemic, which includes guidance for decision-making around escalation. 9 In addition, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has issued guidance, in conjunction with other stakeholders such as the General Medical Council, the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, the Intensive Care Society, royal colleges and faculties.10 As Christian doctors, we must consider how we can respond to the ethical challenges posed. Here we will attempt to consider some of the issues involved, and how to think about them biblically, using Beauchamp and Childress’ widely recognised four pillars of medical ethics11 as a framework.”

However, it must be too soon for a briefing paper on whether any of the current seven Covid-19 vaccinations produced have utilised cell-lines from aborted foetuses. The matter of demand for vaccines was not included. Then I looked at a tagged blog, posted 20 November 2020, which sounded promising, COVID-19 vaccines: the wider ethical questions for Christians. Alas, no mention was made of the ethical issue I wish to explore.

Some success came via a contact working professionally in the realms of Christian ethics. He sent a pdf of an article written by a colleague of his in a Catholic journal, Anscombe Bioethics Centre – Friends’ Newsletter, Summer 2020, Issue 47. (His link to the pdf will not open when I copy it.) Dr Helen Watt, Senior Research Fellow of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, wrote the article, pp 9-12.

“… Vaccines are normally, though not always,4 produced in living cells. While they can be generated (as with some COVID-19 vaccines in the making) in cells derived from ethically uncontentious sources such as insects,5 tobacco plants,6 and hamster ovaries,7 they can also be produced in cell-lines made from tissue derived from an aborted unborn child. One such cell-line used in COVID-19 vaccine research (including a project of the University of Oxford8 ) is the HEK 293 cell-line modified from tissue taken from the kidney of an unborn child aborted probably in 1972, while another is the PER C6 cell-line from the retinal tissue of an 18-week baby aborted in 1985.”

I wish to know both ethical considerations involved and how to identify which Covid-19 vaccinations might have such ethically questionable ‘ingredients’. I will not go to popular media outlets for this as a huge amount of disinformation is being bandied around. This question is addressed to Christians who have ethical compunctions against any use of aborted foetuses, which transcends denomination. I note this related question indicates deep concern but I seek to know how to find out if that's being used with some vaccines.

Edit: this question become more important since the Church has now made a statement regarding the newest vaccine from Johnson and Johnson. See this

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    Might be worth submitting a question to the National Catholic Bioethics Center ncbcenter.org they're not a QA site, but they've got a hotline and a FAQ. But, aside from the title question, what kind of answer are you looking for? A Christian source or actual medical information, because you probably could ask on the Biology.SE site without getting a ton of guff over your compunctions.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 18:16
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    Snopes.com. a fact checker Website says the claim is false for astra Zeneca vaccine. snopes.com/fact-check/astrazeneca-covid-vaccine-fetal
    – Kristopher
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 18:54
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    @Adam I would say that it is the best place to ask it. (But then I am biased, because I have just answered it :)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 22:58
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    @Adam This site is designed to have answerers stick to the actual Q and not deviate into other issues. That is why Qs have to be really specific and clear. There is no room in this Q for such digressions as you mention (tongue in cheek, no doubt!) Some Qs of this nature could, indeed, be posted in other categories, but as it is confined to Christian ethics, the Christianity site seems appropriate.
    – Anne
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 13:20
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    @Codosaur These cell-lines for vaccines have to come from living cells. Dead cells won't cut it. When cells for vaccines from aborted babies are chosen (not in-vitro ones) they have to be extracted swiftly from the aborted foetus before it actually dies, for it IS living in the womb. Technology is such that it may well be possible to extract the cells desired while the foetus is still living in the womb, or (if a caesarian operation happens) taken then. If Dr Watt is wrong detailing some vaccines with cells farmed from aborted foetuses, please explain her error.
    – Anne
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 11:14

6 Answers 6


This is a matter of conscience, quite clearly.

I well know how these matters may be viewed by the ungodly as I was disciplined in a certain company many years ago (final written warning on the first instance of its occurrence) because of this very issue arising, suddenly, without my being prepared to meet it and I reacted in a way which was unacceptable to the management.

However in this case I wonder if the words of Paul are not relevant :

... asking no question for conscience sake: [1 Corinthians 10:25 KJV]

In the situation the apostle speaks of, one wishes food and wishes to buy it in a market but its origin is unknown. It could have been previously offered to an idol and one would not want to partake of that, but that is only one of a variety of possibilities.

Paul advises not to delve into origins for the sake of conscience. He advises to accept what is being traded at face value and not to make the enquiry.

In our current situation, what is being offered to us is not - principally, in a way of being an absolute necessity of its development and function - fundamentally dependent on the issue that has been here raised.

Certain cell lines have been incorporated into general medical research. A prime example is that of Henrietta Lacks' (1920-1951) cancer cells which became the HeLa line of cells and have been enormously productive, medically speaking, and her memory is now being properly recognised.

It may be that other cells, which in the past have been taken from a source that I would prefer they had not been, have been incorporated into the various research lines which are part of an established data base of genetics.

But as far as I know, the origin of those cell lines is not a fundamental necessity to the development of the product. The cells could have been from anywhere.

The efficacy of the product is not dependent on that issue for its success, is what I am emphasising.

To me, in this particular case, I feel it not necessary for me to make elaborate enquiries in order to free my conscience from any burden. I am content with the words of the apostle, in this instance.

When I was offered treatment by a dentist to strengthen the bone in my jaw, it was he who mentioned that 'donor' tissue (from a cadaver) could be used and I declined and he said he could use proprietary collagen instead.

Once I was injected and no longer aware of my surroundings, he could, for the sake of his own convenience, have used cadaver tissue in my jaw. But I do not feel the necessity to further interrogate him and to demand that he prove to me what he did or did not do. I stated my conscience and I have left it at that.

Looking back with hindsight, I could probably have avoided a final written warning over the matter of a supposed 'abortion' being the source of a sample I was testing, and looking back, it now becomes clear that someone knew my sensitivity and was merely trying to provoke me over it. But I later took voluntary redundancy and got a very generous termination package (thank you to all concerned) and I now reap the reward of a useful pension from the company.

I hope that this helps in the present situation.

I am a Licentiate of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1978) and was given further private training in Molecular Biochemistry when I worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry making products which incorporated radioactive isotopes (for medical research purposes and for cancer treatment).

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    +1 for the first answer (and brave too?) Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 22:14
  • The reason I mentioned in my previous comment about the state of the dead, to some Christians, once the body dies, its nothing more than 'returning to the dust as God said to Adam and Eve after they sinned. In light of that, those Christians would not have any issue with foetalor any other donor tissue. The root of the argument is probably more along the lines of genetic research and cellular level intervention. That is a bigger issue for me as a Christian than whether or not samples came from a foetus
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 6:18
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    @Adam On this site, I find it best only to get involved in questions with which I can sympathise and answer charitably, in the spirit in which they were written. I prefer, if possible, to avoid strife and contention and rather to aim at sensible edification, on those occasions when I am able to offer a contribution.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 10:30
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    @NigelJ I think you are the sort of person I would enjoy having coffee with. Thank you for such a thoughtful and deeply considerate answer to a very complicated question. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 13:23
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    @NigelJ So far I've done all of that minus the email but I might surprise you and drop you a line. In this current pandemic I feel remote Christian fellowship is about as good as it's going to get for awhile. :) Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 19:43

I wish to know both ethical considerations involved and how to identify which Covid-19 vaccinations might have such ethically questionable ‘ingredients'.

How to identify

The Pro-Life Charlotte Lozier Institute maintains an up to date, complete with references, but easy to read table of coronavirus vaccines (pdf version here). Each vaccine has 3 ethical status (one for each stage: Design & Development, Production, and Confirmatory Test). The status is clearly marked with one of the following flags:

  • DOES NOT USE abortion-derived cell line
  • DOES USE abortion-derived cell line
  • SOME tests DO NOT use abortion-derived cells, SOME DO.
  • Currently undetermined

The Institute also provides a quick reference chart for the top candidates (pdf version here).

How Coronavirus Vaccine works

The institute also provides an excellent visual aid (pdf version here) to how viral infection works as well as how 5 vaccine strategies work in the human cell:

  1. Live-Attenuated/Inactivated Vaccines
  2. Viral Vector-based Vaccines
  3. Protein-based Vaccine
  4. DNA Vaccine
  5. RNA Vaccine

Another visual aid shows how fetal cell lines are used in some vaccines.

Deliberation Process

When the only practical option (i.e. the availability in one's particular region) is ethically tainted in one or more stages, one has to deliberate prior to making the decision. Some helpful factors to consider:

  1. Which of the main vaccines on offer today use ethically compromised cells and in what stage (i.e. design & development, production, confirmatory lab tests), see the table referenced above.

  2. 11 Dec 2020 statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (see quotes in K-HB's answer)

  3. 2 Mar 2020 statement from USCCB on Johnson & Johnson vaccine (thanks @Kris)

  4. How to balance various degrees of cooperation with evil (formal vs. material, immediate vs. mediate, proximate vs. remote, active vs. passive, etc.) with the moral duties (of protecting oneself, and of the common good). For a guide, see another timely (21 Dec 2020) Papal note from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  5. A sample primer on what cell lines are and why HEK-293 and HeLa are prevalent in the research & development, and even production of biological products: ScienceNews 7 July 2020 article How making a COVID-19 vaccine confronts thorny ethical issues.

  6. More technical details on Thomistic moral reasoning mentioned in the Papal note referred above: a section of the document "Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared From Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses" attached to the 9 June 2005 letter response by Pontifical Academy of Life.

    The principle of licit cooperation in evil

    The first fundamental distinction to be made is that between formal and material cooperation. Formal cooperation is carried out when the moral agent cooperates with the immoral action of another person, sharing in the latter's evil intention. On the other hand, when a moral agent cooperates with the immoral action of another person, without sharing his/her evil intention, it is a case of material cooperation.

    Material cooperation can be further divided into categories of immediate (direct) and mediate (indirect), depending on whether the cooperation is in the execution of the sinful action per se, or whether the agent acts by fulfilling the conditions - either by providing instruments or products - which make it possible to commit the immoral act. Furthermore, forms of proximate cooperation and remote cooperation can be distinguished, in relation to the "distance" (be it in terms of temporal space or material connection) between the act of cooperation and the sinful act committed by someone else. Immediate material cooperation is always proximate, while mediate material cooperation can be either proximate or remote.

    Formal cooperation is always morally illicit because it represents a form of direct and intentional participation in the sinful action of another person.¹⁰ Material cooperation can sometimes be illicit (depending on the conditions of the "double effect" or "indirect voluntary" action), but when immediate material cooperation concerns grave attacks on human life, it is always to be considered illicit, given the precious nature of the value in question¹¹.

    A further distinction made in classical morality is that between active (or positive) cooperation in evil and passive (or negative) cooperation in evil, the former referring to the performance of an act of cooperation in a sinful action that is carried out by another person, while the latter refers to the omission of an act of denunciation or impediment of a sinful action carried out by another person, insomuch as there was a moral duty to do that which was omitted¹².

    Passive cooperation can also be formal or material, immediate or mediate, proximate or remote. Obviously, every type of formal passive cooperation is to be considered illicit, but even passive material cooperation should generally be avoided, although it is admitted (by many authors) that there is not a rigorous obligation to avoid it in a case in which it would be greatly difficult to do so.

  • That is a phenomenally good edit! The link to the Charlotte Lozier Institute is excellent - Grateful OP!
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 16:19

I do not have own insights to this topic, but I want to point to some statements of representants of the Catholic Church. In the last month many dealt with this topic, e.g the Bishops Conferences of the UK, the US, Ireland and Slowakia (source, German).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Chairmen of the Committee on Doctrine and the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, 11 December 2020) writes:

[... ] Neither Pfizer nor Moderna used morally compromised cell lines in the design, development, or production of the vaccine. A confirmatory test, however, employing the commonly used, but morally compromised HEK293 cell line was performed on both vaccines. Thus, while neither vaccine is completely free from any connection to morally compromised cell lines, in this case the connection is very remote from the initial evil of the abortion.

In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Modernaare sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines. In addition, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood asan act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is more morally compromised. The HEK293 cell line was used in the design, development, and production stages of that vaccine, as well as for confirmatory testing. [...] The AstraZeneca vaccine should be avoided if there are alternatives available. [...]

It may turn out, however, that one does not really have a choice of vaccine, at least, not without a lengthy delay in immunization that may have serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others. In such a case [...] it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine. [...] [pp. 5f.]

After many and sometimes conflicting statements by Catholic officials the Congeragation for the Doctrine of Faith published a "Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines" (21 December 2020) with approval of Pope Francis. It refers to the abstract statements on such vaccines of the Pontifical Academy of Life (2005, 2017) and the Congregation (2008) and explains for the current situation [emphasis in source]:

[...] (2) In this sense, when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available (e.g. in countries where vaccines without ethical problems are not made available to physicians and patients, or where their distribution is more difficult due to special storage and transport conditions, or when various types of vaccines are distributed in the same country but health authorities do not allow citizens to choose the vaccine with which to be inoculated) it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.

(3) The fundamental reason for considering the use of these vaccines morally licit is that the kind of cooperation in evil (passive material cooperation) in the procured abortion from which these cell lines originate is, on the part of those making use of the resulting vaccines, remote. The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent -- in this case, the pandemic spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive. It should be emphasized, however, that the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.

(4) In fact, the licit use of such vaccines does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses. Both pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies are therefore encouraged to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated.

(5) At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary. In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed. Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent. In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable.

(6) Finally, there is also a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, governments and international organizations to ensure that vaccines, which are effective and safe from a medical point of view, as well as ethically acceptable, are also accessible to the poorest countries in a manner that is not costly for them. The lack of access to vaccines, otherwise, would become another sign of discrimination and injustice that condemns poor countries to continue living in health, economic and social poverty. [...]


Here is a small part what is given in the name of the Evangelical Alliance UK, together with a link:-

Use of fetal cell lines in vaccine development and considerations for human life

One of the most significant discussions surrounding the vaccine is the use of immortal cell lines, as they are associated with abortion. However, the cell lines that have been used were from one abortion in the 1970s. These cell lines have been used for a number of vaccines since, so COVID-19 vaccines do not exist in isolation.

It is important to acknowledge that the ends do not justify the means, so the lives saved do not justify this abortion. However, it was also suggested that not taking this vaccine would not be the most effective way to advocate for pro-life causes, as no further abortions occur in the development, testing or administering of the vaccine. More effective ways to advocate include supporting organisations that offer alternatives to abortions. A way to engage in this policy area right now is by responding to consultations in Scotland and England and Wales on in-home abortion, which was introduced as a temporary measure for the lockdown but is now being proposed as a permanent option.

For more of the article, see:- https://www.eauk.org/news-and-views/what-ethical-issues-does-the-covid-19-vaccine-raise

Is it ethical to benefit from someone else's evil act?

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Similarly, the surgeon’s best book on human anatomy, and probably vital for the most excellent surgery, especially in difficult cases, is “Pernkopf Topographic Anatomy of Man” by Eduard Pernkopf. But the dilemma for the surgeon is “Should I be using it?” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-49294861

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21, ESV)

But it seems it was almost impossible for Joseph's brothers to believe Joseph. Perhaps it was simply too strange a thing for them to believe that their own wickedness was in God's plan and that their evil had played a major part in bringing them to that place where God could bless them and save their lives from death by famine.

It is hard to appreciate when God intends to bring good out of man's wickedness or even to think it is right. How can a good God bring good out of evil? How can evil be a part of his plan? While man intends evil and does evil, in the same moment and by the very same act God ultimately intends good. The motive is evil on man's part (and man will be held entirely responsible for his evil) and the motive is entirely good on God's part.

On the very Day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter gives his first (and greatest?) sermon in which he expresses precisely the same strange feature of God's dealings with humanity:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (Acts 2:23 KJV)

The sermon ends with

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36 KJV)

Again, God brings good out of man's evil. Of course, no Christian here has decided to say "I simply refuse to get any benefit from that extremely wicked act, from what those extremely wicked men did to the Lord Jesus Christ!" Was the murder of the Lord Jesus Christ not more wicked than abortion?

But we see that God was in it; and while the men intended evil (and will One Day be held fully responsible for it unless they repented of it) God was ultimately intending good, the saving of much people alive for eternity.

The selling of Joseph into slavery was in the plan of God. The murder of our Lord Jesus Christ was in God's plan. And abortion is also in God's plan. And he can, does, and will, bring much good out of abortion, just as he always does bring good out of evil, because that is what our God specialises in doing.

In truth if God was not able to bring good out of man's evil then no good would be possible at all, because ultimately "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags", so all the things that man does is evil; tainted and marred by evil, some more, some less (Isaiah 64:6).

I guess if we were to refuse to get any benefit from evil sources then we would have to go out of this world altogether.

I think on the issue of taking a vaccine which has used aborted human foetal tissue these are the kinds of questions that we need to work through:

Would my agreeing to take the vaccine:

  1. make me complicit in the whole abortion industry?
  2. trivialise (the whole horror of) abortion?
  3. compromise my position against abortion?
  4. (perhaps unwittingly to me) lessen my opposition to abortion?
  5. make me a hypocrite - a hypocritical benefactor of abortion?
  6. encourage more abortion?
  7. encourage an industry of making use of human foetal tissue, leading to yet more abortions in order to get the right kinds of human foetal tissue?

Or does my unwillingness to use the good arising from this evil come partly or mainly from the guilt arising from a feeling that I have failed to sufficiently oppose the evil itself? (Who can avoid this guilt? But there is forgiveness in Jesus).

Personally, I think it is the evil source we should speak out against. But an evil source does not always make the outcome unusable, eg the murder of Christ at the hands of wicked men.

The saying is "It is no use crying over spilt milk".. what is in the past cannot be undone. An abortion done 50 years ago cannot be undone either. Those who are thinking not to have a vaccine because of its origin should be fully aware of what they are doing: they are risking their own life and the lives of others. Any moral decision should also take into account if there are any dependant people: do I have children who need me to live?

We want to tell the world clearly that abortion, the murder of unborn babies, is wrong. Is it really effective communication to say "I value every human life (and thus believe abortion is wrong): therefore I am willing to risk my life and that of others by not having a vaccine"? Might not an non-Christian onlooker be entitled think that, actually, you do not value human life?

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    an interesting answer. I did not go down the abortion debate pathway because using a foetus for scientific research and abortion are, in my opinion are different debates. A non living tissue is just that, it has no spirit, no breath of life. My interests are wholly around the ethics and morality of genetic research. I have not formed an opinion either way, although I too am apprehensively leaning towards it being OK. Question is, we are sinners, how can sinners really truly know what is good even in medicine? Perhaps the phrase 'by their fruits you shall know them' is good enough?
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 20:23
  • @Adam - Thanks. The OP specifically asked about "farmed cell lines from aborted foetuses". That is the focus of the question, and should be the focus of our answer. If you want to ask a separate question about research on dead human tissue per se then go for that. It would be interesting too. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 21:10
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    @Adam These cell-lines for vaccines have to come from living cells, as far as I know. Dead cells won't cut it. So I assume the cells for vaccines from aborted babies have to be extracted swiftly from the aborted foetus before it actually dies, for it IS living in the womb. Technology is such that it may well be possible to extract the cells desired while the foetus is still living in the womb, or (if a caesarian operation happens) taken then. I don't know, however, and would gladly be corrected if I am wrong.
    – Anne
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 10:02
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    The two verses Genesis50:19-21 and Acts2:23 was excellent verse. The thing repeatedly stated in this good answer was "Jesus was murdered", and this is biblically wrong. No one takes the life of Jesus, the "wicked hands" did not murder Jesus but brought only His Passion not Murder.. The death of Christ was given & offered freely, so Jesus was not murdered. Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 21:24
  • @jongricafort - With respect, the answer isn't biblically wrong at all. They killed Jesus, an innocent Man: neither the facts he was willing to die, nor that they could not have killed Him unless He were willing, make any difference to the guilt and nature of the act they committed: it was murder. Commented May 18, 2021 at 8:57

There is a significant difficulty in analyzing the moral character of using cells from aborted fetuses in a Christian framework.

Let me give you a parallel example, imagine that a police officer in the 1950s decided to kill a black man simply because he was black. Assume that the victim did not die immediately, and one of the attending surgeons was a researcher. Without the victim’s consent, the researcher harvests cells from the victim, and the cell line is still alive today and being used in research.

Does the murder matter? Would it have mattered if the researcher had killed the victim, possibly for some reason other than to get cells?

When the Bible was written, and for over a thousand years after the apostolic, ante-Nicene and post-Nicene fathers’ writings, the concepts necessary for science did not exist. Specific ideas, such as the concept of cells, did not exist either.

Robert Hooke. Micrographia: or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses. London: J. Martyn and J. Allestry, 1665.

Popper, K., 1935/1959, Logik der Forschung, translated by the author as The Logic of Scientific Discovery, New York: Basic Books.

Indeed, early Christianity isn’t well designed for the complexities of human biology. Neither are many early teachings. For example, while twinning can happen roughly at conception, it can happen a week later. There is a significant question regarding the soul. If babies are ensouled at conception, what happens when it splits in half?

Gabbett, Michael T. and Laporte, Johanna and Sekar, Renuka and Nandini, Adayapalam and McGrath, Pauline and Sapkota, Yadav and Jiang, Peiyong and Zhang, Haiqiang and Burgess, Trent and Montgomery, Grant W. and Chiu, Rossa and Fisk, Nicholas M. Molecular Support for Heterogonesis Resulting in Sesquizygotic Twinning. New England Journal of Medicine. 380(9). pp 842-849. 2019


Illmensee K, Levanduski M, Vidali A, Husami N, Goudas VT. Human embryo twinning with applications in reproductive medicine. Fertil Steril. 2010 Feb;93(2):423-7.

On the flip side, when does the soul depart the body? The famous cell line of Henrietta Lack has been in existence since it was harvested on February 8th, 1951. Has she died yet?


Her cells were necessary for the development of the polio vaccine. Indeed, by 2009 60,000 studies had been performed using her cells and at the time were increasing at a rate of 300 per month. She did not consent, nor did the family consent to their use.


Skloot, Rebecca (2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown/Random House.

Is abortion qualitatively different from other forms of death? The Bible offers both pro and anti-abortion statements. The writings of the church also provide both pro and anti-abortion statements. It isn’t even clearly pro-child. Consider, “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”--Psalm 137:9

Abortion became politically important within the church at various points in time as a distinct issue, separate from other behaviors. Before you even get to the research question, I think the first question is, “is abortion distinct from murder and if it is, when is killing permissible?”

The next question becomes, “does the moral question of cell lines depend on the morality of the first question?”

Unfortunately, it isn’t one or two discoveries or medical advances involved in these questions but much of modern medicine. How many decades of life expectancy would Christians have to give up? Christianity isn’t utilitarian, but there are utilitarian questions.

Is the idea of “morally compromised cell lines” a valid concept?

For example, most of the United States was taken from the indigenous people at gunpoint. The descendants of these people are still around. If they were to show up in your front yard and demand their home back, is your deed morally compromised?

The answer to that question is “almost surely yes.” Native Americans are subject to continued violence, and the legal restrictions placed upon them even today almost mandate forced poverty. It is estimated that only 25% of Native women can bear children because, until the Bush Administration, the U.S. government maintained a policy of forced sterilization. An eight-year-old girl may have entered the hospital for appendicitis but was quite often given a hysterectomy as well, against her will.


That isn’t ancient history.

It isn’t clear that keeping Native land is a moral good. It is clear that billions of people are alive because of cell lines taken in morally questionable ways.

That raises a peculiar question with regard to “morally compromised cell lines.”

Suppose large-scale, clearly grievous evils abound in the land. Is it morally valid to spend time considering the morality of a vaccine?

It is estimated that 25,000 people will starve to death today through the inaction of others. We certainly have the resources to keep that group alive. Is it a morally correct use of time to debate a vaccine’s morality when that time could be used to raise funds for the living?



Undoubtedly the mark of the beast as I’ve heard many of my fellow Christian friends refer to them. There is another aspect also that seemed to be skipped over aside from the aborted fetal tissue(as if that wasn’t bad enough already). These are RNA vaccines, extremely aggressive, and experimental. NONE are currently FDA approved, so at least know that you are indeed part of an experiment if you take one of these. What is it something like 60,000 adverse effects and counting? The only other RNA vaccine that I am currently aware of is the Polio Vaccine and that took many, many years to create and test. These all came out in just over a month or 2. Aside from the fact that they are experimental and dangerous and not even proven to work(the Surgeon General has publicly said they do not stop the spread nor are they guaranteed to keep you from getting it)- well, the situation also brings up many moral and philosophical issues- for example- we were made in the image of God; if you alter your very DNA, are you still of that image? If not what happens when you die? these are the questions you must be prepared to ask yourself along with most importantly doing your due diligence if this is something you decide you want to go through with.

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    mRNA vaccines don't have any ability to change your DNA. (You may be thinking of gene therapy instead.) All these vaccines do is ask the body's cells to also make a new protein, which the immune system will then develop a response to.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 0:46
  • DNA & Ribonucleic acids are Ribonucleic acids.
    – ralphie
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 3:57
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    Like I was saying, that Cornell page says the mRNA in the vaccine doesn't enter the cell nucleus: "Contrary to assertions made by opponents, it won’t turn you or anyone else into a GMO. mRNA stays in the cytoplasm, where the ribosomes are. It does not enter the nucleus and cannot interact with your DNA or cause any changes to the genome." The other site doesn't look reputable. Anyways, it's not really relevant to this Q&A. I've said enough.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 4:20
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    1. The precise origin of the world's major feotal cell line used is not documented. It was feotal but its precise origin cannot be determined. 2. mRNA does not 'alter' DNA. Messenger RNA carries a message from the DNA. 3. No foetal cells are used in RNA type vaccines.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 8:50

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