Sanofi-Pasteur, one of the world’s biggest vaccine producers, has finally decided to discontinue the production of its polio vaccine derived from an abortion fetal cell line.
The vaccine manufacturer will instead use an animal cell line and has committed to developing a COVID-19 vaccine that does not use a cell line from an elective abortion. (Read: Pope Francis: ‘COVID-19 vaccine should be shared to the world when discovered’)
Catholic leaders in the United States have welcomed this development. “We welcome these opportunities where we can illustrate the Church’s eager embrace of scientific advancement when it upholds the dignity of the human person and the precious gift of human life,” said Greg Schleppenbach, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the US bishop’s conference.
In a memo to pro-life directors and state Catholic conference directors, Schleppenbach noted that “the FDA recently approved Sanofi-Pasteur’s request to switch from using an aborted fetal cell line (MRC-5) to using an ethical animal cell line to produce its polio combination vaccines Pentacel and Quadracel.”
Sanofi-Pasteur also announced that it will no longer produce Poliovax, a stand-alone polio vaccine that was created from the same aborted fetal cell line. However, it will retain the ethically developed stand-alone vaccine, IPOL.
Over the years, concerns have been raised over the unethical development of some vaccines with cell lines created from the cells of aborted babies. (Read: Want to learn more about the abortion issue? Watch ‘Unplanned’ in cinemas nationwide!)
In a 2005 document from the Pontifical Academy of Life, it concluded that it is morally permissible and morally responsible for Catholics to use vaccines prepared in cell lines descended from aborted fetuses, if there is no alternative available.
However, the document clarified that Catholics have an obligation to use ethically sourced vaccines when possible. They also have an obligation to speak up and request the development of new cell lines that are not derived from aborted fetuses. (Read: Woman Pursues Pregnancy After Receiving a Phone Call from the Pope)
“We can hope that, with some encouragement, other vaccine manufacturers may consider creating other morally acceptable vaccines,” Schleppenbach said.