NOTE: The best medical advice will come from a physician that has walked closely with you and your personal specific medical concerns. We would encourage you to establish a Primary Care Physician as you consider the options before you and the effect on your personal situation. The information on these pages is not intended to be medical advice. All individuals should consult with a medical professional regarding their medical decisions.
Scientific research and information is updated regularly, especially now as the scientific community is actively and rapidly researching this novel virus. The data below was posted on August 31st, 2021.
Vaccine Ethical Concerns
Bioethical issues are woven all throughout healthcare technologies and medical decisions. With the available COVID-19 vaccines, the primary ethical concern that has surfaced when viewed from a biblical worldview is the use of fetal cells from abortion. Here is what we know about this situation:
The fetal cells were taken from elective abortions in the 1960s and 1970s. One child was due to a miscarriage; one was from a mother that electively chose abortion. Neither mother was forced to abort their child for science. (Wadman, M. Medical research: Cell division. Nature 498, 422–426 (2013).
New abortions are not required for this fetal cell usage. The fetal cell lines are clearly documented and traced throughout vaccine development. Fetal cell lines self-reproduce and do not require additional abortions.
The fetal cells for the vaccines available in the United States were used differently in the different vaccines:
In the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer), the fetal cells were used for testing the effectiveness of the mRNA technology. They were not used in production or development of the vaccines themselves.
In the J&J Vaccine the fetal cells were used in the testing, development, and production of the vaccine.
There are some vaccines in use in other countries or in development currently that do not use fetal cells in production, development, or testing. (Charlotte Lozier Institute, "Update: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates and Abortion-Derived Cell Lines").
As Christians with a biblical worldview and a high standard for the value of human life, both in and out of the womb, this reality is ethically and morally troublesome. As we face navigating life on a broken earth, there are ethical issues associated with many of the day to day tasks of our life. Christian healthcare practitioners have to regularly sort through situations that will impact the life or death of a human God knitted together in their mother’s womb.
A few things that we have considered as we processed the ethical concerns related to the fetal cell usage:
There is an undeniable lifesaving impact of these vaccines for both those in and out of the womb. There are many children who have been lost in the battle against COVID-19 as their mothers were infected and they were forced to deliver early. At the time of this writing, the CDC reports over 600,000 individuals in the United States have died from COVID-19. Vaccination helps to limit the severity of disease. Currently, multiple city hospitals are reporting that their ICU patients are 90-95% unvaccinated. As we consider the weightiness of the abortions, we must also consider the weightiness of the loss of human life outside the womb from this illness.
The abortions were elective, historical, and are not ongoing. The vaccine technology does not require ongoing abortions to be performed.
God Redeems All Things
We believe it is possible to acknowledge the good that has come from this atrocious act without implying that it should reoccur.
We believe in a God who redeems all that He allows and can bring good from evil (Genesis 50:20).
We can lobby for and support scientists and researchers that are working to develop new forms of testing and development technologies that do not involve fetal cells from abortions.
Based on the information above, we find the mRNA vaccines less ethically troublesome than the J&J Vaccine. We participate in the call to value life both outside the womb as well as inside it. As we see these vaccines effectively save lives, we would not counsel against getting them because of the concerning testing processes.
A Prayer for Consistency
It is understandable that some Christians will land in different spots on this issue than our counsel above. This is an issue of personal conviction, and one we will celebrate in other believers who have arrived at a decision differently than ours (Romans 14). Our hope would be that this conviction would be consistently applied across all ethically troublesome interventions, and not solely target the COVID-19 vaccine due to the highly politicized nature of the conversation.
If we have a conviction on not participating in medical technologies historically developed with ethically concerning practices, regardless of the benefit they produce for current health and safety, we need to consider why we are not consistent in other similar areas. This does not mean we don’t draw a line, but we must make sure our line is consistent and biblically informed, not politically or culturally created.
Are we the only ones offering this counsel?
Many other like minded followers of Christ have written extensively on the topic of fetal cell line usage, that we have gleaned from on the counsel and perspective above.
The Christian Medical and Dental Association is a highly respected source on approaching healthcare and practicing medicine with a biblical worldview. They are a nationally known organization that partners regularly with groups like Dallas Theological Seminary. This podcast outlines their conversation on the ethical issue around the use of fetal cells. This podcast highlights general vaccine questions/concerns.
Other trusted voices with biblical world views have spoken to any ethical concerns and advocated for use of the vaccine:
Dr Francis Collins - Director of the NIH, and a follower of Jesus. He has been on a number of faith based resources. This article from the Baptist Standard outlines his comments from an interview with Russell Moore on behalf of ERLC.