On March 1, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told residents in the town of Mattapan that when it comes to the various COVID-19 vaccines, “These are all very effective. People don’t need to pick one from another. People should get vaccinated. If you have a chance to get a vaccine, you should take it, whatever it is.”
The governor’s sweeping statement seems to imply, first, that everybody should get a COVID-19 shot, and second, that it’s not necessary to distinguish among the different vaccines currently on the market, like Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and eventually others.
During “serious illness conversations,” some doctors will ply their patients with this question: “What is your minimally acceptable quality of life?”
Behind the question can be the implication that if patients are experiencing a low quality of life, their medical treatments can be discontinued because their life has become “no longer worth living.”
As the new COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, several people have told me, “I don’t want a vaccine with any connection to abortion.”
This is a valid sentiment that most of us would likely echo. At a minimum, it should serve as an important “call to action” for each of us during the course of this pandemic. Even if we decide to get inoculated with a vaccine that was produced using abortion-derived human cell lines — which for a serious reason and in the absence of alternatives would not be unethical — we still face a real duty to push back and make known our disagreement with the continued use of these cells by researchers in the pharmaceutical industry and academia.
In the wake of announcements from multiple pharmaceutical companies about safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, many are expressing ethical doubts about whether it is OK to take these vaccines. Do Catholics have a moral duty to decline an inoculation if it was unethically produced using a cell line that came from an abortion?
The short answer is “no.” This has been discussed and explained in several magisterial church documents in recent years.