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Pro-Life and Pro-Vaccine: Understanding the Moral Dilemma Part 1/Take 2

To say that this series has ruffled some feathers would be an understatement. This is understandable considering the emotional nature of the topic. Therefore, I cannot say that I am surprised that there are individuals who would like some additional evidence to corroborate my claims regarding the connection between abortion and vaccine research and development. The goal of this article, essentially a sequel to Part 1, is to supply this additional evidence and elaborate on a few of the evidences previously given with supporting documentation.

A Note On What I View as a Precarious Situation

The biggest difficulty appears to be that Creation Ministries International (CMI) has published a few articles addressing this issue, and my statements do not align with theirs. It is these that I have been invited to respond to directly.

While I am confident in my ability to do so, and have a host of additional sources (equally impressive in nature to the ones I have previously offered), I do not relish the thought of authoring a “debunking” style article aimed at a ministry I respect so very much. And, in the course of citing CMI’s statements followed directly by refutations, I am concerned that no matter how respectful I keep my language, my bold response will be viewed as an attack.

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However, I suppose this is no different than pointing out the errors in official statements of other ministries I harbor great respect for, such as Focus on the Family and Southern Baptist Convention publications, which I did not hesitate to feature in Part 2 of my series.

My forthcoming statements are in no way to be construed as insinuations that the authors of the CMI statements intentionally supplied inaccurate information, or that they are somehow disingenuous in their support of the pro-life position. So, with a spirit of humility and in the spirit of Christian love, I submit the following for your consideration.

Answering a Preliminary Question

Regarding CMI, I have been asked an excellent question, “Why should we trust your sources over theirs?”

First, the sources I have supplied in Part 1 are of far superior quality: Stanley Plotkin’s (one of the most historically prominent vaccine researchers/developers to date) deposition under oath, FDA documents, CDC documents, an extensively researched document published by the Catholic Register on the continued use of aborted babies in the production of cell lines created for the purpose of vaccine R & D which contains its own numerous, impeccably cited, and quite authoritative sources, as well as a number of studies published in the NIH/PubMed database (I cited 4 out of hundreds) testifying to the continued use of aborted babies in vaccine R & D authored (in some cases) by the very scientists conducting the research. Second, there is no comparison between the sheer number of sources I have cited in support of my position, and those cited by CMI.

Comparing the caliber of the sources I have offered to those offered by CMI in 2 relevant publications:

In this article, Dr. Carl Weiland seems to rely heavily on his personal experience and opinions. I have no idea if he has experience in the R & D of vaccines. To my knowledge, none is stated. He does insert an editorial note in 2003 citing an “Australian government publication…” In a 2004 editorial addition, Weiland cites a 2004 article published in Scientific American. The purpose of the latter addition is unclear to me as it testifies that his previous statement expressing disbelief that aborted babies would be needed is erroneous. Weiland himself writes that the article, “…argues for cultured human cells being used for the flu…”

An addendum added in 2007 cites the personal correspondence of an individual identified as “Mrs. J.S.” whose sister called the Australian Immunization Register in 2005. The language employed in the pursuant defense can be characterized by phrases such as, “Mrs. J.S. seems to remember them saying…” Without intent to impugn the character or memory of “Mrs. J.S.” (or her sister), I will say that the testimony of the scientists involved in the actual production of the cell lines is certainly superior to the statements made by the Australian Immunization Register. I will further note that if I were providing these types of evidences for my position, I would not be taken seriously.

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Another CMI article states, “As shown above, the link is two aborted children from 40 years ago, as wrong as that was. But especially since there is no more abortion for the purpose of generating vaccines…” I am unable to find where this conclusion is confirmed in any of the links provided in the article, and I have provided numerous lines of evidence to the contrary in Part 1.

Getting on with the task at hand…

Additional Corroboratory Sources:

Why are human fetal cell lines preferred?

The History of Vaccines: An Educational Resource by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia explains:

“Although it has now been used in the United States for more than 30 years, Plotkin’s rubella vaccine was initially ignored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in favor of rubella vaccines developed using duck embryo cells and dog kidney cells. In the late 1960’s, there was concern in the country that a vaccine developed using human cells could be contaminated with other pathogens….This is interesting in light of the discovery earlier in the decade that polio vaccines developed using primary monkey kidney cells were contaminated with simian viruses: this was one of the reasons researchers began using the normal human cell strain WI-38 in the first place. According to Hayflick, however, the main reason for using WI-38 was the fact that it could be stored in liquid nitrogen, reconstituted, and tested thoroughly before use for contaminating viruses.”

Science Direct: Learn more about WI-38 agrees:

“Human fetal cells were valuable in fetal research because they support the growth of many human viruses and are sterile; they were first used around the time that researchers found that primary monkey kidney cells were contaminated with SV40 virus.”

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Excerpt from Conversation with Stanley Plotkin at the 4th Conference on Vaccines in Dubrovnic, Croatia, September 2017:

“It was controversial for two reasons. One was this fear that in human cells, there might be some hidden virus that would cause problems. You have to remember that about that same time, SV40 was discovered in monkey cells. Since that was surprise, the people were afraid that the same thing might be true for human cells. A second issue was a religious issue. Fetal cells had been isolated from an aborted fetus in Sweden, and since it was an aborted fetus, there was, let’s say, some issues with the Catholic Church.”

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia (not an “anti-vaccine” source- it is “supported by the National Science Foundation, Arizona State University, etc):

“Diploid human cells, like the WI-38 cells that Plotkin used, have the same number of chromosome pairs as typical human body cells. Plotkin argued that diploid human cells were a better medium for growing weakened virus strains for vaccines because they better represented the human cells to be vaccinated.”

“Plotkin’s primary opposition at the conference was Albert Sabin, who had successfully created an oral polio vaccine…that was widely used in the Soviet Union…He [Plotkin] further asserted that Sabin’s objections came from religious, not factual, reasons due to the origin of the WI-38 cells in aborted fetal tissues.”

L. Hayflick and P.S. Morehead, “The Serial Cultivated of Human Diploid Cell Strains” Experimental Cell Research 25.3 (December 1961): 618. (this source is publicly accessible, however, it is behind a pay wall. My citation comes from Brief History of Human Diploid Cell Strains). CMI also cites Pontifical statements as sources, so there should be no disagreement as to the reliability:

“the isolation and characterization of HDCS [human diploid cell strains] from fetal tissue make this type of cell available as a substrate for the production of live virus vaccines. Other than the economical advantages, such strains…make the consideration of their use in the production of human virus vaccine a distinct possibility.”

Weiland makes the accurate statement, “vaccination has been around far longer than legalized abortion…” Good point. How did we get these initial vaccines then?

Brief History of Human Diploid Cell Strains addresses this:

“Abortion in the United States was illegal at that time, so fetal tissue was provided by Dr. Sven Gard of the Karolinska Institute Medical School in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Erling Norrby, who later served as chairman of the department of virology and dean of the medical faculty at Karolinksa Institute, was a graduate student there during this period. He dissected many of the aborted fetuses…”

The following citation is from Norrby’s “Listen to the Music: The Life of Hilary Kaprowski” (review). This is also behind a pay wall. However, Johns Hopkins University offers an excerpt in which the following quote can be confirmed for free:

“My predecessor as professor of virology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sven Gard, spent a sabbatical year at the Wistar Institute in 1959…One of my duties as a young student in the laboratory in Stockholm was to dissect human fetuses from legal abortions and send organs to the Wistar Institute. Such material is the source of many important studies of cell lines at the Institute, such as Leonard Hayflick’s study of WI-38 cells.”

In the 2007 addendum to the CMI article in which a “Mrs. J.S.” is mentioned, the following quote can be found, “Mrs. J.S. seems to remember them saying that the fetus died as a result of a ‘medical abortion’ (this can mean for an abortion induced for the life of the mother, for example, but in medicalese, the word ‘abortion’ is also used to mean a pregnancy that ‘naturally’ ended, e.g., as the result of a medical condition.”

This contradicts what Hayflick, himself, wrote in the medical literature regarding the origin of the aborted baby ultimately used:

“The fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children. There were no familial diseases in the history of either parent, and no history of cancer specifically in the families.” (source- “Gamma Globulin Prophylaxis; Inactivated Rubella Virus; Production and Biologics Control of Live Attenuated Rubella Virus Vaccines” [no author given] American Journal of Diseases in Children 118.2 (August 1969): 377-278.)

For detailed information as to the origin and identities of the aborted babies utilized in the production of other HDCSs, the interested reader is encouraged to refer to the National Catholic Register source cited above, Brief History of Human Diploid Cell Strains.

Are these cell lines immortal?

By that I mean, can we produce vaccines on them forever without having to replace the cell lines with new cell lines derived from yet, more, aborted babies?

I believe I have already sufficiently proven this isn’t the case with an abundance of evidence in Part 1, including my citation of this 1978 publication in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology which explicitly makes this clear. The existence of the following HDCSs in addition to WI-38, testifies that this assertion just doesn’t align with reality:

MRC-5; PER C6; HEK-293; IMR-90; Walvax-2

This Walvax-2 publication makes equally clear that it was produced specifically for the purpose of replacing both WI-38 and MRC-5 in the authors direct comparisons:

“Specifically, WALVAX-2 cells replicated more rapidly than MRC-5 cells…Moreover WALVAX-2 cells attained 58 passages of cell doublings whereas MRC-5 reached 48 passages during this period. We also tested the susceptibility of these cells to rabies, Hepatitis A, and Varicella viruses. Analysis of virus titers showed the WALVAX-2 cells to be equal or superior to MRC-5 cells for cultivating these viruses…In conclusion, results from this study show that WALVAX-2 cells banks are a promising cell substrate and could potentially be used for the manufacturing of HDCVs.”

Weiland provides an interesting citation from the Australian government publication which reads, “A cell line thus produced is not identical to the cells of the original species from which it is derived but has similar genetic characteristics…the cells, although uniform, no longer resemble the originals.” Without assuming what Weiland may or may not take this statement to mean, it seems to me that the author of the statement is attempting to create a type of gray area in what constitutes an actual part of the original aborted fetus. If the actual cell did not come from the dead body, then it can’t be said that there are aborted fetal cells in vaccines.

What do the official sources say?

Indeed, even the statement about cells is difficult to maintain considering what the CDC Excipient and Media Summary (essentially a vaccine ingredients list) states for the relevant vaccines:

“MRC-5 cells including DNA and protein”

Of course, there is also this FDA source I cited in Part 1: Issues Associated with Residual Cell-Substrate DNA: An Update.

The presence of residual DNA from the original aborted baby, in our vaccines, is well attested in the medical literature.

Beginning with what is arguably the most pro-vaccine hospital in the nation due to a particularly vocal doctor on staff (who also holds a vaccine patent), Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the following appears under the heading “Vaccine Ingredients- DNA”:

“…the amount of human DNA in the final vaccine preparation is minimal…and highly fragmented. DNA from the vaccine is not able to incorporate itself into cellular DNA.”

In 2015, Dr. Theresa Deisher published Epidemiologic and Molecular Relationship Between Vaccine Manufacture and Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence, in which she and her colleagues concluded:

Average single stranded DNA and double stranded DNA in Meruvax II were 142.05 ng/vial and 35.00 ng/vial respectively, and 276.00 ng/vial and 35.74 ng/vial in Havrix respectively. The size of the fetal DNA fragments in Meruvax II was approximately 215 base pairs. There was spontaneous and cellular and nuclear DNA uptake in HFF1 and NCCIT cells…Vaccines manufactured in human fetal cell lines contain unacceptably high levels of fetal DNA fragment contaminants.

I have specifically chosen not to interact with the highly controversial subject of vaccines and autism which is discussed in  Deisher’s study because it is completely irrelevant to my topic. However, I will note that Deisher has been viciously attacked for daring to publish her research, and is certainly the victim of baseless attempts to classify her as a fraud because of this, in addition to her pro-life stance on stem cell research and her advances in moral adult stem cell research.

YEC scientists will be particularly familiar with these types of antics from the opposition. For the benefit of those who have perhaps unfairly judged Deisher, I have submitted her resume with her astonishingly impressive qualifications and accomplishments which can all be independently verified. Below are some excerpts:

– PhD in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from Stanford University

– 19 years in commercial biotechnology, working with such illustrious companies as Genentech, Repligen, ZymoGenetics, Immunex and Amgen, prior to funding AVM Biotechnology and Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute. AVM Biotechnology is the marquee pro-life biotech company worldwide, certifying that it does not use morally illicit material in any process. (This one should grab your attention.)

– an inventor on 23 issued US patents

– first person to discover adult cardiac derived stem cells, and has been a champion of adult stem cell research. As an aside, another CMI article lauds this alternative to embryonic stem cell research.

– recipient of multiple grants and awards

– Deisher also penned the Open Letter from Dr. Theresa Deisher to Legislators Regarding Fetal Cell DNA in Vaccines

Another statement in this CMI article that I feel I should respond to is,

“But the imagery of some sort of ongoing abortion factory  ‘feeding ‘ the vaccination industry is clearly not appropriate, as no children are being ‘sacrificed’ to immunize people.”

This has definitely impacted readers since I’ve had this quoted to me almost verbatim in response to my article. Admittedly, this is a confusing argument to me and I’ll explain why.

No, there is no “abortion factory.” However, abortion is currently legal in the US, and all aborted babies that are obtained for vaccine research (or for any other type of research) come from facilities where these elective abortions may be obtained (Planned Parenthood, etc). Many pro-lifers support legislation that would make all abortion illegal in the US, even in the case of rape and incest. At least one CMI author has agreed with this position.

Therefore, supporting continued vaccine R & D with HDCSs (some very newly developed), conflicts with support of legislation to make all abortion illegal. The success of one goal rests on the failure of the other. If pro-life advocates were to actually succeed in making all abortion illegal, vaccine developers would once again find themselves in the position developers like Plotkin were in when they were importing aborted babies from abortions performed in Sweden. These two goals suffer from irreconcilable differences.

I will supply the following sources to illustrate the additional difficulties with this CMI statement.

First, we must establish that elective abortions are the preferred type of abortions, rather than the other legitimate meanings of the word ‘abortion’ that Weiland pointed out above:

The Congressional Research Service, Fetal Tissue Research FAQs states:

“Fetal tissue used for research is obtained from elective abortions…Because the timing or recognition of a spontaneous abortion or ectopic pregnancy is unpredictable, and both conditions may result in a serious health emergency for the woman, the fetal tissue collected under these circumstances is often not suitable for research purposes.”

This creates a whole new set of difficulties. Namely, it must be known that the baby that is about to be aborted will be used for vaccine research, before the actual abortion takes place, so that the appropriate actions can be taken to ensure the tissue and organs from the aborted baby are viable for research. The protocol for this is attested in multiple sources:

The Institutes of Medicine “Deliberations of the Human Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research Panel” states:

“According to the panel, ‘the decision and consent to abort must precede discussion of the possible use of the fetal tissue and any request for such consent as might be required for that use,’ and ‘informed consent for an abortion should precede informed consent or even the preliminary information for tissue donation,’ except when the pregnant woman requests such information…Ideally the request and the decision to donate should follow the abortion decision itself, but because postmortem tissue deteriorates quickly and cryogenic storage is not possible for many transplants, ‘the pregnant woman must be consulted before the abortion is performed…'”

This is a travesty. The consensus seems to be that in order to be ethical, the decision to abort must be made prior to giving consent for donation, so that the opportunity to donate doesn’t factor into the decision to abort. Referred to as a principle of “general altruism’ in the source above, and characterized by the question, “…would the possibility of donating fetal tissue to benefit unknown and unrelated patients through transplantation play a role in a woman’s decision to abort?”, this specifically calls into question the CMI assertion that no babies are being ‘sacrificed’ to immunize.

Ideally, ethical donations can only be ensured by performing the abortion prior to receiving consent to donate. However, due to the extremely short window of time for appropriately handling the deceased baby in order to remain viable for research, the consent to donate must unavoidably precede the decision to abort. In other words, there is no possible way to know whether this has factored into a woman’s decision or not.

The American Medical Association Code of Ethics and The Congressional Research Service both agree with this stated protocol.

Dr. Alvin Wong voices the conundrum in his article published in the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly titled “The Ethics of HEK 293“:

It does not seem consistent to say, ‘I had no control over the abortion,’ and then eagerly wait in the operating room for the abortionist to hand over the fetus.

It’s true that Wong’s scenario applies specifically to the researcher, but does the parallel not apply to those who eagerly await the opportunity to protect themselves with vaccines developed using some of these aborted babies?

That’s not even the worst of it. Who is responsible for assuring these protocol are followed? The abortion providers. Do you trust that facilities such as Planned Parenthood are compliant? Can you be assured that a woman who enters such a facility looking for help in a dire situation will not be persuaded to abort when her mind could have been changed by better council? If I were to include reports of alleged unethical activity in abortion facilities we could add another 1,000 words to this article.

Conclusion

I believe that I have more than met the burden of proof that rests upon me in challenging the accuracy of CMI’s statements regarding the ethical dilemma of the pro-life/pro-vaccine position. The dilemma is real. The data cannot be dismissed by correlating it with a movement that some people refer to pejoratively as “anti-vax.” In my opinion, attempts such as those reveal the poverty of evidence to dispute it.

Tiffany Denham

Written by Tiffany Denham

I'm a stay-at-home mom of three with a B.S. in Finance, Minor in Economics, and a passion for science, research, Christian apologetics, and writing. Upon realizing that I had been a victim of the widely held belief that mainstream science is “unbiased” and the erroneous beliefs that follow, I embarked on a crusade to share the overwhelming evidence revealing science's lesser known yet undeniable validation of the biblical creation account. I'm also dedicated to cultivating a deep knowledge and understanding of the Bible in order to effectively defend God's Word and bring honor and glory to Him. I also blog on a number of topics with the goal of combating the misinformation our society is inundated with daily at TruthSnitch.com.

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  1. Thank you so much Tiffany for all the work and intensive research you have done in order to write these articles. I deeply appreciate the resources and information you have provided. Thank you for speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves and for shining a light onto this greedy and heartless agenda.

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