In two days, pro-life advocates from across the nation will converge in Washington, D.C., to protest the infamous Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that, on Jan. 22, 1973, legalized abortion throughout pregnancy.
This unfortunate decision has claimed millions of lives and thwarted the well-being of countless others. The pro-life movement that has risen up in response has grown, fittingly, expansive, recognizing the dignity of life from womb to tomb.
Who can’t get behind a movement purporting that each person conceived, having been made in the image and likeness of God, has worth beyond measure?
Recently, yet another topic related to abortion came upon the horizon, reminding us that we’ve not done enough to protest not just abortion, which is wrong in every case, but the ramifications of it that reach us daily through abortion-tainted products.
The issue was raised briefly as COVID-19 vaccines first began to be pushed. Those in the pro-life community who’ve consistently spoken out against the practice of killing unborn children sensed the moral dilemma, knowing many vaccines have some connection, even if distantly – such as in the research phase of a vaccine’s production – to the cell lines of aborted fetuses.
Moral ethicists have deemed these connections “remote” in most cases. As such, we are mostly free to benefit from these medications and products without being morally culpable regarding their tainted origins. However, that doesn’t get us off the moral hook altogether.
We can’t turn to Scripture to decide how to proceed here; not all answers specific to such modern dilemmas are sorted out in Biblical teaching. This is why Jesus gave us the Church.
In a recent YouTube video by Canadian priest Fr. Mark Goring , he addressed the topic, pointing to a teaching document, “Dignitas Personae,” which notes: “Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such biological material. Thus, for example, danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine using cell lines of elicit origin, while keeping in mind, everyone has a duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that the healthcare system make other types of vaccines available.”
I’ve highlighted that last line. As Fr. Mark notes, many pharmaceutical companies today are glad to emphasize that there’s no animal testing involved in their products. “We should have the same respect for the life of unborn children,” he says.
He then mentioned a listener who wrote to him of her initial hesitancy to agree, until she recalled how, years ago, she had “passionately supported efforts to stop animal testing,” remarking how much of it did stop – because the scientific community heard the demands and found better ways of doing things.
Do small humans not deserve, even more than animals, the same respect? Are we “man or mouse?” I concur with Fr. Mark. It’s imperative, and past time, that we demand that the products from which we benefit do not come to us through the blood of innocent children.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Jan. 17, 2022.]