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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

Abortion, COVID-19 Vaccines, and Mandates:

An Analysis

 Hannah Howard, M.S. |  16 September 2021

In early 2020, the United States was shaken by the news that an unknown virus was spreading quickly throughout the world and that no approved treatments or vaccines were available. Stories of overwhelmed hospitals, poorly prepared care homes, and live case count and death meters appeared online. COVID-19 also became a central topic in the 2020 election cycle. With the world in an uproar, political officials and scientists worked around the clock to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In the United States, three COVID-19 vaccines emerged as front runners: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. However, with the availability of these products came questions and concerns from the public regarding the ethics of receiving each vaccine. Many Americans, for example, became increasingly concerned with the involvement of abortion-derived cell lines in the development, production, and testing phases of the vaccine manufacturing process, and they began asking questions.


Five main methods have been, and are currently, being used to develop vaccines against COVID-19:[1]


1) Live-attenuated/Inactivated Vaccines

2) Viral Vector-based Vaccines

3) Protein-based Vaccines

4) DNA Vaccines

5) RNA Vaccines



The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are RNA vaccines. RNA vaccines are a new technology that do not follow the standard viral or protein vaccine methodology:


RNA vaccines use mRNA that carries the code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. These vaccines can be either a non-replicating mRNA construct or a self-amplifying mRNA construct, able to direct intracellular mRNA amplification. The mRNA is chemically or enzymatically synthesized in the laboratory without the use of cells. Lipid nanoparticles encapsulate the mRNA constructs to protect them from degradation and promote cellular uptake. This is a cell-free system. mRNA vaccines are non-infectious.[2]


These vaccines contain an mRNA that encodes a form of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein; since no cells were used in the production of the vaccine (including no abortion-derived fetal cells), the vaccine itself contains neither cells nor any trace amounts of cell-derived protein or DNA. Thus, for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, what is actually injected into an individual’s arm has never contacted any abortion-derived fetal cells. However, both companies did some post-production (confirmatory) tests using their vaccine with cells in culture to check antibodies produced by vaccinated animals. Some of those tests included the use of abortion-derived fetal cells.  These uses for tests have raised ethical concerns among some, especially because they could have used ethically sourced products instead.


The COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson falls under the viral vector-based vaccine category.  The vaccine is produced using abortion-derived fetal cells—the cells are an integral part of the production as well as the testing process.  Thus, in the case of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, what is actually injected into a recipient’s arm has indeed been in contact with abortion-derived fetal cells.[3],[4]


Much of the concern surrounding the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines involves ethics, information overload, and lack of trust. When talk first started of research on the COVID-19 vaccines, a line was immediately drawn in the sand by many people regarding the use of abortion-derived fetal cells for production as well as testing of the vaccines. Some had no issues at all with taking the vaccines.  Others recognized the dignity of the lives lost to abortion – the tragedy was not lost on them – but their analysis deemed that the ethical repercussions of taking certain vaccines that used abortion-derived cells didn’t extend to them, or perhaps even that taking the vaccine was more ethical than not taking the vaccine because public health was at risk. A group also refused acceptance of any vaccines with even a very remote connection to abortion. These ethical debates continue to rage on today. Currently, President Biden is stoking the fires of some and putting out the flames of others.


On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced that he would be implementing major expansions of COVID-19 vaccination requirements.[5]

1) The Department of Labor will be requiring all employers with over 100 employees to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test weekly.

2) Healthcare workers employed by hospitals or facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments must be vaccinated because, as President Biden says, “I have that federal authority.”

3) All executive branch federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated.  


People all over the United States with ethical objections to the vaccine are now in a precarious position.   


For many, President Biden’s new policies are not simply about vaccines but about deeply held beliefs. While some simply see these fetal cells as generations removed from the original abortion-derived fetal cells, others remain deeply disturbed and strongly opposed to accepting vaccines that have any connection to abortion, no matter how remote. This is a peculiar time, and people are scared: people are scared of contracting COVID-19 and getting sick, or worse, dying; people are scared of getting a new vaccine that they don’t understand; people are scared of being coerced into violating their deeply held ethical and religious beliefs. Establishing policies to mitigate risk, provide exemptions, and strengthen the concept of self-governance that our country was founded on could do a world of good in this situation instead of implementing policies that coerce people to either forgo their consciences or lose their livelihoods.



[1] David A. Prentice, Ph.D., Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., A Visual Aid to Viral Infection and Vaccine Production, June 15, 2020, Updated November 2020. (Accessed 09/13/2021).

[2] Ibid.

[3] David Prentice, Ph.D., Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., A Visual Aid to Viral Infection and Vaccine Production, June 15, 2020, Updated November 2020. (Accessed 09/13/2020).

[4] David Prentice Ph.D., Updated: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates and Abortion Derived Cell Lines, June 2, 2021. (Accessed 09/13/2021).

[5] Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic, Briefing Room, September 9, 2021. (Accessed 09/13/2021).

Hannah Howard, M.S.

Research Associate

Charlotte Lozier Institute

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