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'Moral Concerns' Hover Over J&J Vaccine

Archdiocese of New Orleans, Diocese of Baton Rouge slam it for using cell lines from abortions
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2021 6:31 AM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2021 7:00 AM CST

(Newser) – As health experts continue to plead with the public to accept any vaccine currently offered—be it one from Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson—a new wrinkle has emerged for the latter shot in Louisiana. That's because on Friday, the Archdiocese of New Orleans implored Catholics to, if the option is available, opt for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine instead of the J&J one, as the latter vaccine is "morally compromised," per WDSU. In a statement, the archdiocese says that, using guidance from the Vatican and other Catholic groups, it decided the J&J vaccine deserves to be spurned because the company used cell lines from two abortions that took place in the '70s and '80s in not only the vaccine's testing, but also in its "development and production." The archdiocese adds that although Pfizer and Moderna used the abortion-linked cell line for testing, they don't do so in the manufacturing process, so the "connection to abortion is extremely remote."

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WBRZ reports that the Diocese of Baton Rouge has similar qualms. "I continue to encourage everyone to receive a vaccination, but the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has some moral concerns we must acknowledge," Bishop Michael Duca says in a statement, detailing the same issues tied to the abortion cell lines. The Hill notes that while Catholic groups against abortion have long pushed back on companies that use cell lines from aborted fetuses, J&J defends it as a "research tool" that "[enables] new insights into disease, which may lead to new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide variety of disorders." Despite their misgivings, however, Catholic leadership in New Orleans and Baton Rouge says if the J&J vaccine is the only option, the church won't come down on those who get it. "If for any reasonable circumstance you are only able to receive the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, you should feel free to do so for your safety and for the common good," Duca says. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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