The Vaccines Debate Landscape

free photo from Unsplash

Photo by Hyttalo Souza via Unsplash

Vaccines are in the news these days, but many Americans are up in arms:

  • Some say vaccines injured or killed their children,
  • Many are horrified that some vaccines are made with cell lines from aborted babies, and
  • Some want to abolish government mandates that deny parents the right to protect their children from dangerous drugs.

Human Life International, pro-life missionaries to the world, has heard these cries. Millions of people look to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as fundamental to legitimate freedom. Millions believe in the fundamental human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as they are recognized in the Declaration of Independence – yet many Americans feel betrayed by government officials. More than a billion people in the world look to the Catholic Church as champions of universal human rights in the light of Christ, and so we present the Vatican’s calls to action on reforming vaccines, the vaccines industry, and government.

Now what can you do about it?

Americans Rallied for Federal Protection

Barbara Loe Fisher speaking at the Vaccine Epidemic Injury Event in Washington, D.C. on November 14, 2019

American states and territories determine their own vaccine mandates. Therefore, in November, 3,000 people gathered in Washington for the Vaccine Injury Epidemic (VIE) Event to request federal protection for all Americans, especially children and their parents. Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), co-sponsored the rally and spoke there. She has testified to the Virginia General Assembly, and in part she explained:

I am co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a non-profit Virginia-based charity founded in 1982 to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defend the informed consent ethic. I am the mother of three children. My oldest child suffered brain inflammation after his fourth DPT shot and was confined for 12 years to a special education classroom in Virginia. His younger brother also had a severe vaccine reaction but recovered. There are parents with children in this room who have had similar experiences.

In her enlightening VIE Event speech, she covers every aspect of vaccine mandates, and how government agencies violate human rights.

In a comprehensive interview for HLI’s next vaccine feature about the mandate crises in New York, Loe Fisher pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling on Bruesewitz v. Wyeth. Hannah Bruesewitz, daughter of the main petitioners in the case, was given Wyeth’s Tri-Immunol DTP vaccine as part of childhood immunizations. Her parents claimed that Hannah’s seizures and developmental problems came from the vaccine. They filed suit in the Vaccine Court within the United States Court of Federal Claims, and eventually took it to the Supreme Court. In support of the Bruesewitz family, NVIC had submitted an amicus brief signed by 24 other organizations. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority’s opinion, which sweepingly exempted vaccine manufacturers from liability as long as vaccinations are “accompanied by proper directions and warnings.” Yet warnings are useless if governments require parents to get their children vaccinated.

Mrs. Loe Fisher and HLI discussed methods of making vaccines, government approvals and mandates, plus the problem of some drug companies using cell lines derived from aborted babies in vaccines. Loe Fisher believes in every person’s right to obey the certitude of an informed conscience. So she explicitly told HLI: “Forced vaccination is tyranny. I’ve said that repeatedly in my speeches.”

Father Michael Copenhagen of Rochester, New York, spoke at the VIE Event. Other leaders such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Rabbi Henry Morse, and medical and legal experts spoke too. In the video below, Father Copenhagen beautifully explained true Church teaching on vaccines. He told Catholic politicians who disobey the Church to stop persecuting her and Christ, and he urges everyone to fight harmful government mandates because silence is consent to evil. No doubt he was speaking to his own governor, Andrew Cuomo.

One Woman’s Fight

Earlier this year, HLI covered some of Debi Vinnedge’s work. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother who was sickened to discover that unborn babies were aborted specifically to make vaccines and other products. In 1999, she founded Children of God for Life with the daunting mission of reforming pharmaceutical industry, warning parents, and getting the Catholic Church involved.

Mrs. Vinnedge said:

I wondered what one person could possibly do to bring about changes. And I have to admit it was frightening to consider challenging the sheer immensity and power of the pharmaceutical industry when we began the Campaign for Ethical Vaccines. But I also knew that if I turned my back on all those parents and children – my fellow pro-life brothers and sisters – it would be like saying “no” to our Lord. And while moral Theologians and ethicists argued whether one was complicit in the evil of abortion by using fetal tissue vaccines, I believed the only real “complicity” on my part would be if I did nothing about it.

Debi Vinnedge, founder of Children of God for Life

That one person – Debi Vinnedge – has helped the Vatican, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Medical Association, and individual bishops to determine healthcare policies in keeping with Catholic teaching. Many other groups use her research too.

“Over the past, many well-intentioned pro-life parents, physicians and members of the clergy have made the assumption that there were only two abortions that happened a long time ago and no more abortions would be needed, now or in the future, to produce vaccines,” Vinnedge told HLI. “But that assumption fails on the actual facts. While one might argue that even one abortion is one too many, there were actually hundreds of abortions involved in vaccine research – not just two, but 99 recorded, elective abortions alone for the rubella vaccine.”

Mrs. Vinnedge chronicled the tragic history of researchers aborting babies to make the polio vaccine and others. Read more of her work about abortions for vaccines by clicking here.

Albert Sabin, chief inventor of the oral polio vaccine, wrote:

A new approach was made by the use of 3- to 4-months-old human embryos, obtained aseptically by Cesarean section… The brain and cord, the lungs, kidneys, liver, and spleen were stored in the refrigerator, fragments of these tissues being taken for the preparation of media at 3-day intervals.

Joan C. Thicke, Darline Duncan, et al. wrote:

Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained from the gynaecological department of the Toronto General Hospital… No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.

John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. They wrote:

Embryos of between 12-18 weeks gestation have been utilized. Rarely tissues were obtained from stillborn fetuses, or from premature infants at autopsy… In the experiments 3 sorts of embryonic materials were used: elements of skin, connective tissue, muscle; intestinal tissue; brain tissue… Whenever possible the embryo was removed from the amniotic sac, transferred to a sterile towel and kept at 5C until dissected.

Some current polio vaccines still have human fetal ingredients and Vinnedge offers a list of vaccines that don’t. Nevertheless, please proceed with caution: Just because a vaccine such as Gardasil has no fetal ingredients doesn’t mean it is safe.

The Vatican Called on Catholics to Change Vaccines and Government

On June 4, 2003, Debi Vinnedge wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (and later Pope Benedict XVI). She requested clarification about giving children vaccines with cell lines from aborted babies, and the right of parents to oppose such vaccinations mandated by governments.

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life 1994-2005, and president 2005-08 (Screenshot from a Rome Reports video)

Two years later on June 9, 2005, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, bioethicist and president of  the Pontifical Academy for Life, replied with
Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Fetuses.

As shown above, Father Copenhagen spoke about this at the VIE Event. Here are the main points of the document written by Bishop Sgreccia on behalf of the Vatican. In it, he specified that we may take or allow tainted vaccinations only for an extrema ratio – only for an extreme reason, meaning a contagious disease emergency – when no morally produced vaccine is available:

If someone rejects every form of voluntary abortion of human fetuses, would such a person not contradict himself/herself by allowing the use of these vaccines of live attenuated viruses on their children? Would it not be a matter of true (and illicit) cooperation in evil, even though this evil was carried out forty years ago? …

It is up to the faithful and citizens of upright conscience (fathers of families, doctors, etc.) to oppose, even by making an objection of conscience, the ever more widespread attacks against life and the “culture of death” which underlies them. … Furthermore, on a cultural level, the use of such vaccines contributes in the creation of a generalized social consensus to the operation of the pharmaceutical industries which produce them in an immoral way.

Therefore, doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines (if they exist), putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available. They should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human fetal origin. Equally, they should oppose by all means (in writing, through the various associations, mass media, etc.) the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared, which are not connected with the abortion of a human fetus, and requesting rigorous legal control of the pharmaceutical industry producers.

As regards the diseases against which there are no alternative vaccines which are available and ethically acceptable, it is right to abstain from using these vaccines if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health. …

In any case, there remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously and unethically.

That is exactly what many Americans are doing.

Vaccine Mandates for Children

Again, Children of God for Life provides a Vaccines Chart at It says unlisted vaccines don’t have “aborted fetal cell lines.” We show you Virginia’s code to vaccinate children because that is where HLI’s world headquarters are located:

  • Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP); inactivated polio vaccine (IPV); and haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib): Vaccines without fetal cell lines are GlaxoSmithKline’s Infanrix hexa; Merck’s Vaxelis; and Sanofi U.S.’s Pediacel/Pediarix.
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR): No MMR vaccines minus fetal cells are sold in the USA. Since 2011, Daiichi Sankyo Company in Tokyo sells the Kitasato Daiichi Sankyo vaccine minus fetal ingredients; some Americans take their children to Japan for it; and if Daiichi Sankyo Company decides to sell the vaccine here, they would have to get Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
  • Varicella (chickenpox): There are no chickenpox vaccines without human fetal cell ingredients.
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV): The Gardasil vaccine is unnecessary for children because HPV is sexually transmitted. New York lawmakers threaten to mandate this drug for children as early as January 8. See details about the dangerous Gardasil vaccine below.

Some clarification is necessary on Children of God for Life’s chart: Since 2009, Merck no longer sells Attenuvax for measles or Mumpsvax or any untainted combination, only their polluted MMR combo vaccine.

HLI doesn’t explicitly say “take no vaccinations” because each person’s health should be duly considered according to individual risk and the common good. For example, healthcare workers and religious ministers might need a morally-produced vaccine to care for patients with some particular illness. The Vaccines Chart shows that GeoVax, LeafBio, and Merck are developing Ebola vaccines without fetal ingredients.

Still, in America there is no legitimate MMR option to fend off German measles and you might want to read Daniel Engber’s report in Slate showing why the world shouldn’t blame anti-vaxxers for the outbreak.

Parents Have the God-Given Right and Duty to Protect Their Children

Photo by Jonathan Borba

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):

All 50 states have legislation requiring specified vaccines for students. Although exemptions vary from state to state, all school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons. There are 45 states and Washington D.C. that grant religious exemptions for people who have religious objections to immunizations. Currently, 15 states allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs.

Debi Vinnedge stressed:

Laws in 45 of 50 states allow parents to file religious exemptions from vaccines in both public and private schools and many have chosen to do just that under the supremacy of moral conscience, which is constantly under attack in Catholic health care by both Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion politicians. So the battle over aborted fetal vaccines is an important link in the battle for religious freedom – not just for concerned pro-life parents, because it actually impacts us all.

New York repealed its religious exemption for childhood vaccinations and Maine repealed its religious and philosophical exemptions. Starting in 2020, California students are limited to medical exemptions; government officials will investigate doctors who issue more than five exemptions per year; and the government can revoke exemptions.

Thankfully, Maine citizens got a people’s veto on their March 2020 presidential primary ballot. At the VIE Event, Maine House Representative Heidi Sampson (R-21) and Maine State Senator Robert Foley (R-34) spoke about the voters’ veto at 1:35:00 and 2:22:00, respectively.

Bobby Kennedy, Jr.’s Crusade

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaking at the Vaccine Injury Epidemic Event on November 14, 2019


In Virginia the Gardasil vaccine for the sexually-transmitted disease HPV is mandated for girls aged 11-12 to attend school, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is on a crusade to outlaw the drug nationwide.

NCSL explains:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 million Americans are infected with HPV. There is no cure for HPV, only treatment for related health problems. Most strains of HPV do not produce cancer or any symptoms and disappear on their own. When it does not go away, however, HPV can cause cancer and genital warts.

In 2007, then-Governor Tim Kaine (D), a nominal Catholic and pro-abortion politician who is now one of our U.S. senators, signed the Virginia Gardasil mandate into law, which demands that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated. Kaine’s mandate followed his 2006 welcoming of Merck’s Gardasil factory to Virginia, spending taxpayers’ money on the deal to set up government programs for the vaccine, and training government workers. In May 2019, Eric Palmer of revealed: “Merck & Co. will spend $1 billion and add 100 jobs to a Virginia plant so that it can continue to ride a wave of HPV vaccines sales.”

Robert Kennedy, Jr., father of six and an attorney, is founder of Children’s Health Defense, which largely rejects vaccines. He said Gardasil is “nothing short of disastrous” because the drug has caused infertility; 61,000 known serious medical conditions; and 450 known deaths, and he shows how Merck and the FDA cheated in the approval process. The cost to vaccinate each child ranges from $390 to $450. Some states mandate that boys get it too, and the so-called vaccine is recommended for children as young as nine.

Kennedy’s speech at the VIE Event starts at 3:21:15.

Politicians and school systems present their HPV prevention agenda as good will to vaccinate children before they start having sex. In Virginia, this is absurd because the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) shows that sexual relations with children and teenagers under the age of 18 are crimes. Federal laws prohibit sexual activity with minors too. Yet VDH misleads parents:

HPV Vaccine is important for students HPV vaccine is an important vaccine for all students to receive! Boys and girls should receive the vaccine when they are 11-12 years old and in Virginia, the HPV is a Code-required vaccine for school entry.

In June 2018, NCSL said: “Three jurisdictions currently require HPV vaccines for school attendance: Rhode Island, Virginia, and District of Columbia.” The Rhode Island Department of Health bypassed lawmakers and announced an HPV vaccine requirement for seventh graders; and “The District of Columbia’s bill was enacted and the requirement started 30 days after Congressional Review Period expired.” According to the Washington, D.C. code, parents or guardians of new D.C. students in grades six-12 must certify that their children got the HPV vaccine.

Virginia allows parents to opt their children out of the Gardasil vaccination. For this report, some parents told HLI they signed personal exemption forms at their doctors’ offices for Gardasil and other vaccines.

So parents, be on guard. Know what schools plan to teach your children; remove them from harmful classes; monitor their relationships and activities; and teach them well that the only legitimate condition for sex is holy matrimony.

Pro-Lifers Mean Business

Children of God for Life’s Vaccines Chart offers reasons for hope. It shows vaccines minus fetal cell lines for cystic fibrosis; heart problems; hepatitis A; hemophilia; infections; polio; rheumatoid arthritis; smallpox; and shingles.

Pharmaceutical giants such as Merck and GlaxoSmithKline sell some vaccines made with fetal ingredients and some without. They have plenty of money to purify all their vaccines.

Debi Vinnedge constantly updates her allies in health care, and she told HLI: “In January 2018 the FDA approved GlaxoSmithKline’s morally produced shingles vaccines which meant we had real ammo to fight against Merck’s aborted fetal version that previously had sole ownership of the market for nearly 20 years. A plan to promote this new moral vaccine was launched among all Catholic healthcare facilities in all U.S. dioceses.

“To fully appreciate the impact we looked at Merck’s own financial reports and their U.S. sales of Zostavax for 2017 and 2018,” she said. “Revenue for Zostavax dropped from $422 million to $22 million in just one year.

Federal Progress Depends on the President

President Donald Trump (R) has taken unprecedented steps to stop our government from committing abortion crimes, and this demonstrates the need to vote for human rights and legitimate freedom.

Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International

In September 2018, HLI President Father Shenan J. Boquet thanked Trump administration officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for cancelling the FDA’s contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources, which sells “fresh” body parts of abortion victims.

Father Boquet was disturbed by other HHS programs, including a reported $2-million-per-year contract using fetal tissue to “humanize mice” for HIV drug testing. The contract was with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and was issued through HHS’s National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Therefore, Father Boquet said: “We praise the decision of the Trump administration which has taken a vital step in the protection of human life, assuring children who suffered death because of abortion are protected from being treated as a commodity. However, the administration needs to assure that no contract is signed, which purchases aborted babies.”

On June 5, HHS announced they had terminated the contract with UCSF. In part, HHS said:

Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration. …

In December 2018, NIH announced a $20 million funding opportunity for research to develop, demonstrate, and validate experimental models that do not rely on human fetal tissue from elective abortions. HHS is committed to providing additional funding to support the development and validation of alternative models.

“Thanks to President Trump for cancelling the UCSF contract under the charge of HHS Secretary Alex Azar,” said Father Boquet. “We are grateful as HHS oversees the audit of every program to cease taxpayer-funded trafficking of unborn babies’ body parts after the little victims were aborted.”

Debi Vinnedge said:

Children of God for Life is calling on all pro-life individuals to join them in congratulating President Donald Trump for his decisive action to end all government contracts involving aborted fetal research. We are deeply grateful to President Trump for standing up in defense of those who have no voice.

You may read her complete statement by clicking here.

“The Catholic Medical Association welcomes this life affirming policy,” said CMA President Dr. John Schirger. “We are grateful for this action which we pray instills within people an innate appreciation for the value and dignity in every human life.”

“Research done in an ethical and humane manner never should be contaminated with acts that are in stark contrast to the aim of such research — to advance the cause of human life and reduce suffering,” said Dr. Greg Burke, co-chair of CMA’s Ethics Committee. Read CMA’s entire statement by clicking here.

USCCB Pro-Life Chairman Archbishop Joseph Naumann said:

We strongly commend the Trump administration for taking actions to move our tax dollars away from research using body parts from aborted babies and toward ethical alternatives. Scavenging and commodifying the body parts of abortion victims for use in research gravely disrespects the bodies of these innocent human beings. Their remains deserve the same respect as that of any other person. To subsidize this degrading practice with our taxpayer dollars is deeply offensive to millions of Americans. Further, the use of fetal tissue procured from aborted babies also can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion by suggesting that body parts procured in abortion are necessary for research. In truth, research using fetal tissue from aborted babies is neither ethical nor necessary. Researchers have demonstrated the ability to pursue excellence in medical research without collaborating with the abortion industry to further victimize aborted babies.

On June 5, 2019 — the very same day as the HHS announcement in keeping with Catholic teaching — Cardinal Elio Sgreccia died on the eve of his 91st birthday. Human Life International is eternally grateful to him for encouraging Catholics to fight the good fight for human rights. We pray that he is celebrating eternal life with Christ, and we ask him to intercede for everyone who works for justice.

Did you find this useful?

Anita Crane is an analyst, writer and editor for Human Life International. She earned a B.A. in Catholic Theology from Christendom College and is certified by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia in VIRTUS training called Protecting God's Children. She lives near Washington, D.C. and her background includes working as a promo producer and scriptwriter for the C-SPAN Networks, and working as senior editor of the national pro-life magazine Celebrate Life. She has written many articles about the Catholic stance on faith, human rights, politics, movies, and other media for internet publishers, some with millions of readers.


  1. Vicki on January 1, 2020 at 2:48 PM

    What about the immunization for meningitis? Does it contain aborted fetal cell tissue?

    • HLI Staff on April 14, 2020 at 1:26 PM

      Thank you for the question, Vicki. This writer has not found any research to suggest the meningitis immunizations contain aborted fetal cell tissue.

    • Ruth on February 26, 2021 at 10:57 AM

      I suggest anyone wondering about whether a vaccine used aborted fetal cells and want to know if there are ethical alternative vaccines should go to cogforlife’s website they have a list. meningitis is not on the list so the vaccine did not use aborted fetal cell lines.

Leave a Comment