I posted about how prevalent testing on HEK-293 is on Patheos. When I published it, I did not expect it, but this became probably my most-viewed post of all time.
For years, the Church has generally encouraged vaccines while noting issues with certain ones grown on fetal cell lines. She allowed people to give prophetic witness against abortion by not taking such vaccines (I have defended the right to a prophetic stance in this case). Vaccines help both one’s own health and the health of those around you. However, in the discussion of COVID vaccines, some have taken this further. They have rejected every vaccine tested (not grown on) on fetal cell lines like HEK-293. However, if we reject a medication merely for being tested on a fetal cell line, most of a standard pharmacy would be immoral.
These people who argue against vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna which are only tested on fetal cell lines have a pretty straightforward argument. They identify “abortion as an evil which is in a horrendous class all its own, a class that excludes the normal rules of moral reasoning.” The main rule excluded is the rule that remote material cooperation can be licit. They want nothing that could in any way indicate a possible approval of abortion or drawing good from abortion. If that is the standard, that standard should be applied across the board to all drugs.
Below I will list out a sample of drugs tested on HEK-293 like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, point out errors in their reasoning, point to two ethical things we should do as Catholics, and conclude with a point on over-thinking remote cooperation in evil.