I have been involved with a couple of debates in which I presented the ethical case against vaccines which use the cell line HEK-293 derived from the kidney of an "aborted" baby.
As it happens, this includes all the currently available Covid-19 vaccines in the UK.
Here, basically unedited, is the opening speech I gave in both debates:
I wish to make the case that how we respond to fetal cell line vaccines, is how we respond to the practice that produces them: namely, the harvesting of vital organs from human babies – which continues today.
In making this case I thought it’d be helpful to take three of the most common justifications for taking the vaccine, and show where I think they fall down.
The first, is this idea that in the case of this particular cell line, HEK-293…, we’re talking about only a very “remote” connection with evil – it was just one abortion many decades ago. The connection is so slight now as to be insignificant: the vaccine is permissible.
Analogies used here include train tracks laid down by slaves in centuries past – is it wrong to take a train ride on such tracks? Surely we can condemn the past slavery but still benefit from the fruit left behind. After all it would be a waste not to. The slaves wouldn’t hold it against us if we made us of the train tracks today.
The problem with using an analogy like this is that it suggests that organ harvesting is a thing of the past.
If I can make only one reality memorable and central in this whole debate let it be this: organ harvesting from human babies is not a thing of the past. It’s happening today.
But before we look into that, I just want to question this subjective idea of “remoteness”. This baby girl, “HEK-293”…, had she been allowed to live, would be in her late 40s today, and might have had children of her own. It’s hardly ancient history. There may well be people tuned in today who were themselves born in 1973. Johanna – this is the name we’ve imagined for this baby girl, with the intention of honouring her dignity as a human being made in the image of God – Johanna would have been your contemporary.
More importantly, where did we get this idea that evil diminishes over time? I can see nothing in the Bible to suggest such a notion.
But the main point I wish to make here is this: this idea of remoteness is just in ignorance of the facts. Organ harvesting is not history. Both the baby genocide and the practice of organ harvesting that made HEK-293 possible back then, continue today, in full force. There has been no let-up. It’s happening in the very same labs, universities, countries that it happened in back then.
As recently as 2015, nine babies were delivered alive in their sacs in China for dissection. Researchers were after lung tissue. In the end they used tissue from just one baby girl, to make the new fetal cell line WALVAX-2.
Here in the UK, the Cardiff Fetal Tissue Bank has been collecting organs for research purposes from babies electively aborted.
Just in the last week or so it has come to light that at the University of Pittsburgh in America, you can read their study in the journal Nature, “scientists described scalping 5-month-old aborted babies to stitch onto the backs of lab rats. They wrote about how they cut the scalps from the heads and backs of the babies, scraping off the "excess fat" under the baby skin before stitching it onto the rats. They even included photos of the babies' hair growing out of the scalps. Each scalp belonged to a little Pennsylvania baby whose head would grow those same hairs if he or she were not aborted for experiments with lab rats.”
I just honestly do not know how we can countenance taking the fruit of such barbaric practice – even if it was from the experiments 40 years ago and not the ones done yesterday.
I would like to know if…would be prepared to take a vaccine made with the fetal cell line WALVAX-2, for which nine human babies were dissected in 2015, in China? If he would, what message does he think that would give to the Chinese regime and others who carry out and profit from such practices today? If he would not, why the discrepancy – why accept a fetal cell line from longer ago but not a more recent one?
Second: the claim that since no babies were killed for the creation of fetal cell lines, we’re not encouraging more abortions by making use of this material.
It’s as if we stumbled across an adult who had been murdered, not for their organs, and took the opportunity to use their organs to save others. The taking of organs is neither here nor there when it comes to the original wrongful killing, it is argued – which of course we all roundly condemn.
But the problem here again, is that it is in ignorance of the facts. There is collaboration between the abortionists and those wanting the organs.
I hope I can make this distinction clear. It is true that in most cases, the babies in question were going to be killed anyway. But it is not true that they were going to be killed in this way, in such a torturous manner.
Planned Parenthood in America have been found to admit that they sometimes alter the way in which they kill babies in order to preserve certain organs that have been ordered. The babies delivered by water bag abortion in China were deliberately kept alive as close to dissection point as possible – ideally, for the researchers, they would still have been alive when dissection began – for the freshness of their organs.
You can read the official write-up of the production process of WALVAX-2. They are at pains to point out that animals used in the process were treated humanely, given anaesthetic etc. No such mercy was afforded the human babies.
Friends, in the production of this fetal cell line, babies were treated worse than lab rats.
How can we even countenance drawing benefit from such practice, when it continues today?
So no, babies generally aren’t killed for their organs, but they do endure additional, specialised torture for their organs.
Is that an irrelevance? Is that something we’re happy to tolerate – because they were going to be killed anyway?
I think we would shudder at the idea of cutting open criminals on death row – alive and with no anaesthetic – to get their organs fresh – “because they were going to die anyway”.
Why do we take innocent unborn children so much less seriously than adult criminals on death row? Is that God’s heart? Is he pleased with this attitude?
Third: the argument that we live in a fallen world, moral taint is all around us, it’s the water we swim in, the air that we breathe: we just have to accept that some level of proximity with such things is inevitable – otherwise we’ll end up living in a desert cut off from pretty much all civilisation.
In some cases, this is true. We can’t get away from proximity with all evil – even some, involuntary or reluctant, participation.
A good example would be taxes. We are clearly commanded in the Bible to pay our taxes, even though some of them are spent on evil things. It’s not a choice we have. Biblically, I think that’s clear and simple.
But what we’re talking about here is not a compulsory or unavoidable thing.
The vaccine producers didn’t have to use a fetal cell line. Some didn’t – CureVac. It was entirely unnecessary.
And we don’t have to take this vaccine. It’s a choice.
The question is not whether it’s possible to avoid this, the question is whether we’re willing to pay the price to avoid it.
Where possible, and according to the knowledge available, we should seek to invest in good practices and avoid/discourage evil practices – but let me suggest two reasons why it’s especially important in this case:
i) Child sacrifice – more than, for example, animal welfare – is especially grievous to the heart of God. It ought to weigh on us as heavily as it weighs on God. It ought to grieve us. We ought to find it horrendous. I don’t think the thought of opting to benefit from it should even cross our minds.
ii) In a way that is not the case for almost any other injustice you can think of, baby genocide and organ harvesting enjoys almost universal acceptance worldwide. It’s a multi-state-sponsored, financially comfortable, genocide and it’s baked into so much of the global medical establishment, with global organisations such as the WHO encouraging and accelerating it. It’s important to try and bring a total end to sweat shops etc, but the good news is: almost everyone already agrees about that, at least notionally, and efforts are being made. On the baby genocide, however, the consensus is on the other side of things, and so, in the words attributed to Bonhoeffer: “Not to speak is to speak”. We need to take this opportunity. We need to take every opportunity to go out of our way to expose it, stand apart from it, and stand against it.
I confess that I am saddened that it seems that most Christians today, in line with the mainstream messaging, see in the abortion-tainted vaccine a “way out” or a “route back to normal”, instead of seeing a great opportunity for us to be salt and light and to reject the promises and principles and practices of this world, in favour of the world to come.
How we respond to fetal cell line vaccines, is how we respond to organ harvesting from babies.
To accept the vaccine, is to accept the practice that produced the vaccine, which continues today.
As Christians, I do not see how we can do this.