An Overview of Aborted Fetal Cell Strains, Remote Cooperation and a David and Goliath Fight

The first abortion-tainted vaccine began development in the mid-1960s by Dr. Stanley Plotkin at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. During a rubella epidemic, some rubella-infected women elected to abort their babies for fear of possible serious risks associated with the disease. Dr. Plotkin isolated the rubella virus in the kidneys of an electively aborted baby. At the same time, Dr. Leonard Hayflick, working independently in the same laboratory, used another aborted baby to develop a fetal strain, W1-38, descendants of which are still used throughout much of the world in the combined MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine commonly given to children and adults. The rubella vaccine developed by Dr. Plotkin was first used in Europe in 1970. In 1979, it was added to Merck’s MMR vaccine.

Fetal cell line W1-38 and another cell line obtained through Hayflick’s use of the same aborted baby, MRC-5, have been used since the 1960s to develop and/or test many present-day vaccines. Produced by major pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, these vaccines treat common viruses including hepatitis A, rubella, chicken pox, shingles, and less common adenovirus and rabies.

Descendant fetal cell lines from the two abortions used in vaccine development do not come directly from the aborted baby; however, the original cell lines have engendered the human cell strains currently used to develop and test many vaccines. Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, aborted fetal cell lines are used in approximately five vaccine candidates. HEK-293 is a fetal kidney cell line developed from an aborted baby in 1972. PER C6 was developed from retinal cells of an 18-week old unborn baby aborted in 1985. To date, Pfizer and Moderna have successfully used abortion-tainted cell lines to test the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

Not all vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, use descendant aborted fetal cell lines. Dr. James Sherley, associate scholar of the Charlotte Lozier Institute which does not support abortion-tainted vaccines, and founder and chief executive officer of Asymmetrix Bio-Tech Company, found that from a total of sixteen COVID-19 research projects, ten used ethical alternatives to fetal cell lines. Nevertheless, Dr. Sherley admits that fetal cell lines are “pervasive in research.”

A promising Canadian ethical solution comes from Dr. Wilfred Jeffries, an immunologist at the University of British Columbia and his team. Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB, of Vancouver supports Dr. Jeffries research. The Archdiocese of Vancouver has made a substantial monetary contribution to fund this work but much more is needed. The Sullivan Urology Foundation, UBC, is assisting fundraising efforts in the development of Dr. Jeffries’ ethical vaccine.  For more information and to provide monetary and other support, go to

It is highly likely that we and our children have received vaccines derived from aborted fetal cell lines and their descendants. In addressing this issue, the Vatican Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005 stated that vaccines dependent upon historical use of fetal cell lines may be used for the purpose of preserving life in the absence of an ethical alternative. This is considered remote cooperation with sin, which is not in itself necessarily culpable.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider disagrees with this position. In an interview recorded on Fr. Mark Goring’s YouTube channel, Bishop Schneider said that one of the greatest concerns of receiving a vaccine developed or tested using a descendant aborted fetal cell line is that by our remote cooperation, we are saying that no alternative method of testing of the vaccine is necessary. The Magisterium’s position, however, is that such a vaccine – remotely connected to abortion – may be used in serious and proportionate need when there no alternative available. Of course, we should work to change this.

Remarkably, the pandemic has opened our eyes to the historical use of fetal cell strains derived from electively aborted babies. Until now, most of us have been unaware that we have likely received vaccines developed in this way. We cannot change the past but we can work to address the present situation.

We know that ethical alternatives to fetal cell strains are possible. We also know that the pharmaceutical companies that use fetal cell strains are immensely powerful. No matter. David did not run away from Goliath. With total reliance on God, armed with faith, patience, courage and an insignificant sling shot, he defeated evil.

Now that we are aware that we have unknowingly cooperated remotely with the evil of abortion, it is incumbent upon us to push for policies that promote the use of alternative ethical methods of developing and testing all vaccines. Bishops’ Conferences as well as the Vatican ought to be urged by the laity to more proactively and strongly press pharmaceuticals into using non-fetal cell strains. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops along with seventeen other pro-life signatories including the National Association of Catholic Nurses – Canada, the Christian Medical Dental Association of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians and Societies, the Catholic Women’s League of Canada among others, sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health urging the development of ethical vaccines. They reiterated the use of aborted fetal cell lines as greatly disrespectful to the dignity of the human person.

The Lord has allowed our eyes to see how the sin of abortion committed many years ago continues to have a lasting connection, albeit remote, but nonetheless derived from a brutal act. What we do with our newfound knowledge will determine whether or not we honour the lives of aborted babies who were subjected to further indignity in a science lab and prevent a similar fate for other aborted children. This is a pro-life fight in a different arena. Always and everywhere, our fight against abortion and its connection to fetal cell strains remains uncompromising.


B.C. Catholic (Internet). Vancouver B.C.: April 27, 2020. Vancouver COVID-19 vaccine research gets Archbishop Miller’s support. Vancouver COVID-19 vaccine research gets Archbishop Miller’s support – BC Catholic – Multimedia Catholic News

CCCB Signs Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau Regarding Research for a COVID-19 Vaccine (Internet). May 21, 2020.

Children of God for Life (Internet). Murfreesboro, TN; September, 2008. Vaccines and Alternatives,pdf (Internet). Washington, DC; June 5, 2020. Abortion opponents protest COVID-19 vaccines’ use of fetal cells.

The History of Vaccines (Internet). The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; undated. Human Cell Strains in Vaccine Development.