Despite ethical questions, Moore says taking latest vaccine ‘morally right’

Christians will not act unethically if they receive a COVID-19 vaccine produced from a cell line originally derived from an abortion, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said Wednesday.

The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) addressed the morality of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in a column after the single-dose medication gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Feb. 27. Unlike the previous vaccines authorized by the FDA for use in the United States, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses decades-old, abortion-derived cells in its design, development and production, as well as its testing.

The two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines authorized in December do not use abortion-derived cells for design, development or production, while some of the laboratory tests on their vaccines use abortion-derived cells and some do not.

In his column, Moore said even if a vaccine “might involve unethical aspects of research,” it “does not mean that a Christian inoculated from disease by such a vaccine would be sinning to do so. Taking the COVID vaccine is morally right.”

Moore’s column was published a day after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“[I]f one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen,” according to the Catholic bishops’ statement. “Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.”

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