By Dan Becker — Being pro-life in the 21st century requires us to ask inconvenient questions and to use discernment and courage to consistently apply our Biblical worldview. This is not only true in opposing abortion without exceptions, but also in considering issues of medical ethics, like the COVID-19 vaccines currently in distribution.
“In 2021, the two character traits that will make all the difference will be discernment and courage. Discernment is the ability to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. To see beyond the events of the day and recognize the underlying sources as to why those events are happening.”
Dan Miller, Pastor of Grace Fellowship—Facing the Future, December 31, 2020
Let’s be honest. Nothing is more inconvenient than Biblical Truth. I want to speak to the heart of the pro-life cause in the 21st century—whether we Christians will exercise the discernment and courage needed to be salt and light to our neighbors in the coming years, in areas of biblical worldview application.
Inconvenience is the root of abortion in our society. Bringing a child into the world interrupts our independence, education, finances, and job advancement. Thankfully, since the mid-1970s, the evangelical Church has taken a firm stand on the Truth—that man has worth because he is created in the Image of God. Inconvenience notwithstanding—God’s Word, and Church history through the ages, has faithfully proclaimed the sanctity of human life.
Because we bear the Imago Dei (the image of God), all mankind, and by extension, each and every human life, has a “specialness” and worth that demands respect. God knows the child in the womb (Psalm 139:13-18). God’s Law says that a child shall not be put to death for the crimes of his father (Deuteronomy 24:16). We infer from this verse that there is no licit exemption for rape or incest in anti-abortion law. This truth is very inconvenient to Christian legislators who would prefer to defend the “less extreme” position of allowing the rapist to live, while at the same time, permitting the child conceived in rape to be executed.
Additionally, from its earliest stage of development, each human life is a unique person that bears God’s likeness and should have the same protection of the law afforded other persons in our society. For this reason, all human life is to be respected in law. This respect is due regardless of the manner of conception and whether through natural reproduction, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or through the ex utero process of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), otherwise known as cloning.
Human-animal hybrids and the advancement of medical knowledge
In 1972, an innocent child was murdered by abortion. Her body parts were harvested and trafficked for use in medical research. Her kidney became a fetal cell line called HEK-293. In 2020, the girl, known only as HEK-293, was injected into a mouse fetus so that the mouse developed “humanized lungs.” Science calls these creatures “chimeras” or human-animal hybrids. Chimeras are a particularly heinous mockery of the Imago Dei. These chimeras were then used to test the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for their safety and effectiveness. In fact, 6 of the 8 COVID-19 vaccines in the taxpayer-funded Operation Warp Speed program have needlessly used these abominations in their testing phases.
Pastor John Piper was asked recently to address the larger issue, “Can I Take a Vaccine Made from Aborted Babies?” In my opinion, his response was biblical, succinct, and very inconvenient.
His answer is NO!
I would strongly encourage everyone to take a moment and listen to his biblical arguments. He refutes the idea of “Let us do evil that much good can come to our neighbor.” Unfortunately, Piper’s interviewer failed to apply this biblical reasoning to the testing of the vaccines; an inconsistency communicated widely in the pro-life movement and among Christian leaders. Does only testing the vaccines with aborted fetal cells remove the unethical taint? Sarah Quale of Personhood Alliance Education asks:
“If organizations and leaders are demanding that a vaccine be produced without the use of aborted fetal cells, then why aren’t they asking that a vaccine also be tested using the same standard?”
I think this is an inconvenient question that each of us will need to consider.
Applied biblical worldview
There are currently several human cell lines that are ethically non-controversial and can be effectively used for testing vaccines:
- HEPG2—An immortalized human cell line from a hepatic cancer
- HeLA—An immortalized human cervical cell line
- A549—An immortalized human alveolar cell line, which is more appropriate to test COVID-19 because it targets the alveolar cells
- Alveolar cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from cord blood
- Human adult stem cells
All of these cell lines provide an acceptable, and in some cases, superior, alternative to using HEK-293.
Let us do evil so that good may come?
The bodies of murdered children are currently being commodified to procure all manner of cell lines to advance medical knowledge because “The end justifies the means.” This was the excuse that Nazi researchers used in the 1947 Nuremberg trials to defend their ghastly human experiments. This defense was rejected by western allies, and six Nazi doctors were executed by hanging. This trial raised global awareness of unethical human subject research.
The Nuremberg Code for Medical Ethics was established and adopted as the standard of ethics for decades after WWII and became part of the foundation of modern medical research today. Central to its application was the fact that western allies refused to use the ethically compromised research. The use of tainted medical knowledge obtained by the Nazis came before the U.S. EPA as recently as 1989. The EPA was looking into the effect of the poisonous gas phosgene on human lungs. The largest body of research available was that left by the Nazis. The EPA rightly rejected this tainted science and pursued other ethical paths to research.
An immensely inconvenient thing to do.
How should we then live?
My good friend, Dr. Matthew Clark—who is a reformed pastor and a practicing physician who also holds a Masters in Public Health from Harvard with a specific focus on pediatrics, allergy, and immunology—lends his expertise:
“Let’s not allow sophistry to cloud the obvious issue. Baby-murder was the source of cells used to test most of the currently available COVID vaccines. Every Biblically minded Christian should reflect deeply on this fact. To ignore or minimize this fact is to be pro-death, not pro-life.”
This chart has been produced by my good friend at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Dr. David Prentice, formerly the Director of Science at James Dobson’s Family Research Council. Dr. Prentice takes a position opposing illicitly produced vaccines, but not illicitly tested vaccines.
According to the chart, there are 38 COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of development. It is estimated that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will not be widely available to the general public until the end of May. Several of the remaining 36 are perfectly acceptable and do not use aborted fetal cells in their design, production, or testing.
My friends at the Personhood Alliance warn that “any effort to commodify aborted human beings in the design, production, and testing of vaccines will continue indefinitely unless and until Christians demand biomedical science be separated from the killing and trafficking of innocent human beings.”
As inconvenient as it may be, conscience, discernment, and courage dictate that I will personally wait until a licit vaccine is available.
The Personhood Alliance’s official position on vaccine ethics can be found here.
To learn more about how the Personhood Alliance stands consistently against all direct assaults on human life and human dignity, subscribe to our email list.
Dan Becker is the founder and President Emeritus of the Personhood Alliance. He has been a social entrepreneur for several decades and involved in the right-to-life movement since 1979. Dan has been a steadfast proponent of personhood across the world and has written two books on it.