Are There Remains of Aborted Babies Used in Vaccines?

Are There Remains of Aborted Babies Used in Vaccines?

By |2020-08-28T10:11:04-04:00April 28th, 2020|Categories: Abortion|Tags: , , , |

There is some confusion today among pro‑life people (especially parents) regarding the morality of using vaccines that may have been produced using the tissue of aborted preborn babies.

medical syringe aborted fetal tissue in vaccines

Aborted Fetal Tissue in Vaccines

Of particular concern are vaccines that were developed in part using fetal tissue derived from aborted babies who died decades ago, and whose tissue is regenerated in laboratories under the names MRC-5 and WI-38.  These include Varivax for chicken‑pox, Meruvax II for rubella (German measles), and Havrix and Vaqta for Hepatitis A.[1]

The MRC-5 and WI-38 cell lines originate from babies aborted in 1961.  Their cells were regenerated by Merck and other corporations, and are used in the Varivax and Meruvax II vaccines.  These cell lines are technically “immortal,” because technicians can sustain them in a laboratory indefinitely under the proper conditions.  This means that the researchers who developed these relatively new vaccines bear no responsibility whatsoever for the original abortions carried out half a world away and half a century ago.[2]

This is in contrast to some current‑day researchers who experiment on the remains of preborn children.  They cooperate so closely with abortion mills in order to receive the tissue they need that they are frequently in the abortuary at the time the abortions are being performed so they can package and preserve the organs immediately.

Our Moral Obligation

In June 2005, the Pontifical Academy for Life published a document entitled Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Fetuses, which answers most questions that Catholics might have about the morality of using vaccines that are derived from the cell lines of aborted preborn children.

The document recognizes the great value of eradicating diseases that have plagued mankind for millennia, calling this a “milestone” of modern medical technology.  The Catholic Church has always supported advances in all areas of medical technology as long as they adhere to moral standards.  However, over the past half-century, many morally questionable ― and outright evil ― practices have surfaced.  Certain procedures that attempt to derive good from evil are ethically murky and create doubt, such as producing lifesaving vaccines from a procedure (abortion) that ends life.

Doctor injecting vaccination in arm of asian little child girl,healthy and medical concept

The primary question is:  How closely do vaccine users cooperate in the evil of abortion?

There are generally three degrees of cooperation regarding the manufacture, sale and use of vaccines originating with aborted babies:

  1. To begin with, those who procure tissue from aborted babies in order to produce a vaccine from it are guilty of formally cooperating in abortion by approving of and taking advantage of the very act of abortion itself. They are as guilty as the boyfriend who pays for the abortion, the friend who drives her to the abortion mill, or the abortionist who performs the actual procedure.
  2. Somewhat removed from this direct cooperation in abortion are those who market, advertise and distribute the resulting vaccines. But these activities are also morally illicit, because they “could contribute in encouraging the performance of other voluntary abortions, with the purpose of producing such vaccines” [Moral Reflections, Section 6].
  3. Finally, there are the doctors and patients who use these vaccines, even though they know about their origin. They are permitted to use the vaccines when no alternative is available, in order to avoid “significant risks to their health” and “indirectly the [health of the] population as a whole.” However, this causes the “moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk.  This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible” [Moral Reflections, Summary].

The document Moral Reflections points out our moral duty to do more than just passively resist evil; we must actively fight it.  We are all obliged to “oppose by all means the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared.”

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, gives us some guidance on what specific actions we can take.  He says that parents can:

…ask their health-care providers for accurate information detailing whether particular vaccines were developed using cell lines of illicit origin.  This engages the health-care profession in a discussion that it very much needs to become party to.  Parents can make known their disagreement by writing to the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the vaccines.[3]

A letterbox with the inscription Complaints, letter of complaint

The Ethical “Bottom Line”

In summary, conscientious pro‑lifers are forced to weigh their own children’s health against participating in an illicit and immoral procedure that has already killed preborn children.  Fortunately, the document Moral Reflections has clarified the situation:

The lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing, and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense … [is] morally justified as an extrema ratio [extreme reason] due to the necessity to provide for the good of one’s children and of the people who come in contact with the children [pregnant women].

Dr. Edward J. Furton, a leading Catholic bioethicist, writes:

It seems impossible for an individual to cooperate with an action that is now completed and exists in the past.  Clearly, use of a vaccine in the present does not cause the one who is immunized to share in the immoral intention or action of those who carried out the abortion in the past.  Neither does such use provide some circumstance essential to the commission of that past act.  Thus, use of these vaccines would seem permissible.[4]

Dr. Furton said that Catholics, by using these vaccines, are not approving of the original abortions in any way.  He wrote that it would be a “high standard indeed if we were to require all benefits that we receive in the present to be completely free of every immorality of the past.”  He also pointed out that these vaccines certainly will not encourage any more abortions since the cell lines from the original abortions are continuing to grow and duplicate and that therefore “there is little incentive to begin new human cell lines.”  He also wrote that we may refuse these vaccinations ourselves, but we have a duty to protect the lives and health of our children and must get them vaccinated if no other alternative is available.

If Merck or other pharmaceutical corporations were still purchasing large quantities of aborted babies from abortion mills to generate these vaccines, there would be no question as to what the correct course of action would be.  But it is certainly licit to use such vaccines when the abortion in question is an act that was accomplished long ago, when no more abortions will be required, and when the lives of many children ― including, perhaps, our own ― will be saved.  If the only vaccines available are those derived from aborted preborn children who died many years ago, we may use them because there is no material cooperation in the abortions.  If there is any cooperation in the evil of abortion, it rests with the pharmaceutical corporations, not with the people being vaccinated.

merck logo

Sources of Current Information

Anyone wishing to be more informed on the complex issue of vaccinations can refer to several reliable pro-life sources.  For technical information, see the website of the organization Children of God for Life (, which was founded by Debi Vinnedge in 1999.  Then there is AVM Biotechnology, founded in 2008 by Dr. Theresa Deisher, who holds 23 biotechnology patents.  Her website is at

For the opinions of leading Catholic bioethicists, see the website of the National Catholic Bioethics Center at

A general list of licit and illicit vaccines is published in card form by

Moral Alternatives to Aborted Fetal Vaccines:

  • Hepatitis-B Only:   Recombivax HB (Merck) and Engerix B (GSK)
  • Polio-Containing Vaccines: IPOL (Sanofi); IPOL+Any DTaP (GSK, Sanofi); ImovaxPolio (Sanofi)[A]; InfanrixHexa Polio+HiB (GSK); Pediacel Polio+DTaP+HiB (Sanofi); and Pediatrix Polio+DTaP+Hepatitis-B (Sanofi)
  • Rabies:  RabAvert (Chiron/Novartis)

Aborted Fetal Tissue in Vaccines:

  • Chickenpox/Varicella:  Varivax (Merck)
  • Chickenpox+MMR:  ProQuad (Merck)
  • Hepatitis-A containing:  Vaqta (Merck); Havrix (GSK); Twinrix Hepatitis A+B (GSK)
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR):  MMR II (Merck)
  • Polio:  Poliovax (Sanofi) and Pentacel Polio+DTaP+HiB (Sanofi)
  • Rabies:  Imovax (Sanofi)[A]
  • Shingles:  Zostavax (Merck)

[A] ImovaxPolio (moral) is for polio, and Imovax (aborted fetal) is for rabies.



[1]  Vaccines that use the human cell line WI-38, derived from aborted preborn children, include the following:

  • Rubella vaccines Meruvax© (Merck), Rudivax© (Sanofi Pasteur, France), and Ervevax© (RA 27/3) (GlaxoSmithKline, Belgium);
  • Rubella/measles vaccines M‑R‑VAX© (Merck) and Rudi‑Rouvax© (AVP, France);
  • Rubella/mumps vaccine Biavax© (Merck); and
  • Measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccines M‑M‑R© II (Merck), R.O.R.© and Trimovax© (Sanofi Pasteur, France), and Priorix© (GlaxoSmithKline, Belgium).

Vaccines that use the human cell line MRC-5, also derived from aborted preborn children, include the following:

  • Hepatitis A vaccines VAQTA (Merck) and HAVRIX (GlaxoSmithKline);
  • Chicken pox vaccine Varivax© (Merck) (also uses WI‑38);
  • Poliomyelitis vaccine Poliovax© (Aventis‑Pasteur, France) ;
  • Rabies vaccine Imovax© (Aventis‑Pasteur, France); and
  • Smallpox vaccine AC AM 1000 (Acambis).

[2] Experimental Cell Research 37:614‑636, 1965; Nature 227:168‑170, 1970; May 10, 1995 press release entitled “Aborted Babies Used as Source for Rubella Vaccine.”  Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety.

[3] J.J. Ziegler.  “Dignitas Personae and Childhood Vaccinations.”  Catholic World Report, May 14, 2011.

[4] Edward J. Furton, M.D.  “Vaccines Originating in Abortion.”  Ethics & Medics [journal of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC)], March 1999.

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About the Author:

Brian Clowes, PhD
Dr. Brian Clowes has been HLI’s director of research since 1995 and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement. Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books and over 500 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 70 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.


  1. Avatar
    DR ROBERT C RICE May 28, 2020 at 3:08 PM - Reply

    Thank you for your detailed report.

  2. Avatar
    Jill Dewing May 28, 2020 at 3:25 PM - Reply

    And what about the fact that nearly every company pursuing a vaccine for Covid-19 is using aborted fetal cell lines and is in grave violation of our shared beliefs??

  3. Avatar
    esther endris May 28, 2020 at 4:37 PM - Reply

    This still does not eliminate the former baby’s DNA present in these vaccines that we pump into our children.
    Foreign DNA causes problems like rejection, for adults who have implant procedures. It is probably not safe for our children either.
    It could be very guilty for the Very very high incidence of Autism is our children today, 55 out of 100 is not acceptable.

    Why can’t these pharmaceuticals return to producing vaccines with former bases that spared our children the neurological damages in their brains from Autism. This is the Best answer to the immorality question!

  4. Avatar
    Kathleen E Raimondi May 28, 2020 at 11:32 PM - Reply

    I cannot agree that a person receiving a vaccine now does not share the sin of the 60 year old abortion. Evil is timeless. The theory that since the original stem cell lines are prolific into “immortality”. there is low risk of current abortions to provide these cells, I wonder how it would impact the pharmaceutical companies if people would stand on integrity and refuse vaccines made with aborted cells. It might even impact future vaccines,

  5. Avatar
    maureen Brodie May 29, 2020 at 1:08 AM - Reply

    Thank you for this very informative article. I have been pro vaccines all my life, receiving them for all of my children, recently through a daughter in law I have been made aware of aborted fetal tissue in vaccines and am absolutely horrified at this . As a person who has been involved with pro life throughout my life I will be now sharing this information to as many as possible

  6. Avatar
    Laura May 29, 2020 at 2:47 PM - Reply

    Along with aborted fetal cells in vaccines are neurotoxins. If vaccines only had neurotoxins, it would not be a moral choice to give to anyone.

    There are other ways to prevent disease and strengthen one’s immune system.

  7. Avatar
    Robert Clemente August 17, 2020 at 9:08 AM - Reply

    Does it matter that it’s from babies in 1961? Do you, Doc, think it’s a good idea to inject someone with foreign DNA?

  8. Avatar
    Maureen September 13, 2020 at 10:04 PM - Reply

    I’m still so uneasy about these vaccines–no mention of HPV in here…?

  9. Avatar
    Fallon September 15, 2020 at 5:12 PM - Reply

    So let me get this straight. People “benefitting” NOW from research that is immoral and the crime was committed back THEN, this time difference makes it ok to use the fruits of that labor?

    Why was it that the research from the experiments done on the Jews was destroyed with the explanation that such heinous actions should never be used to benefit others, but somehow the vaccines that came from abortions are ok? Why didn’t we just put the NAZI research in a vault and wait 40-60 years and then start using their discoveries to benefit mankind?

    The duration of time between a heinous action and the average person “benefitting” from that action should play no role in our acceptance of it. It shouldn’t be accepted.

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