Saturday, April 18, 2020

US Bishops' Pro-Life Chairman and Healthcare Leaders Sign Letter Urging Government to Develop Ethical COVID-19 Vaccine


Bishop Chairmen Urge FDA to Develop Ethical Vaccine for COVID-19

April 17, 2020
WASHINGTON – Four bishop chairmen of committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have urged Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to ensure that vaccines for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) are developed ethically and are free from any connection to the exploitation of abortion.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend and chairman of the Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette and chairman of the Subcommittee on Healthcare Issues, signed the letter to the FDA Commissioner. They were joined by the leaders of many healthcare, bioethics, and pro-life organizations.
The letter expressed strong support for efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible, but also strongly urged that the federal government “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”
The letter noted that “among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies.” Furthermore, “there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used,” the signers stated. “It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.”
To view all of the signatories and to read the full text of the letter (below), click here.
Friday, April 17, 2020 
The Honorable Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. 
Commissioner U.S. Food and Drug Administration 
10903 New Hampshire Avenue Silver Spring, 
MD 20993-0002 
Dear Commissioner Hahn, 
As our nation works to defend itself from the deadly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), we write to express our gratitude to you and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all of its efforts to combat the virus and to ask for your help to ensure that Americans will have access to vaccines that are free from any connection to abortion. 
To be clear, we strongly support efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible. However, we also strongly urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited. We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies. For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a substantial contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines. 
Thankfully, other vaccines such as those being developed by Sanofi Pasteur, Inovio, and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute utilize cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods. It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience. Fortunately, there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines. Commissioner Hahn, we urgently and respectfully implore you to not only ensure that Americans will have access to a COVID vaccine that is free of ethical concerns, but to encourage and incentivize pharmaceutical companies to use only ethical cell lines or processes for producing vaccines. Sincerely,

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