Science, Superstition and the Duty to Vaccinate

In previous posts authors at the Rational Catholic have sought to argue that not only can the Catholic, pro-life parent vaccinate his or her children but also that they ought to do so.  The reasons that a parent should vaccinate come from both an interest in the wellbeing of one’s own child as well as a general obligation to the common good.


Understanding that this is a complicated, emotional issue with profound moral and spiritual ramifications, last week I sought guidance from the National Catholic Bioethics Center regarding whether there is an active duty to vaccinate one’s children.   The National Catholic Bioethics Center is a non profit organization whose mission centers on the protection and defense of human dignity through research, education, consultation and publication in the areas concerning health care and life sciences.   They offer free consultation to anyone seeking guidance regarding ethical questions, and were kind enough to answer mine.


Reproduced with permission from correspondence with Edward Furton, M.A., PhD, Ethicist and Director of Publications for the National Catholic Bioethics Center


Focusing in on your central question, there is indeed a moral duty to immunize one’s child and so help preserve the public good through the use of scientifically established and clearly beneficial programs of vaccination. The chickenpox vaccine may be an exception to this rule, as the risks resulting from this disease are not great. As for the rest, for example, measles, mumps, and rubella, these are important childhood vaccinations and parents have a special duty to care for and love their children. Children cannot make these decisions for themselves and so depend upon the prudential judgments of others.

Unfounded fears about possible adverse effects do not overcome the objective duty to make use of immunizations. To make a sound moral judgment, the individual Catholic must properly inform his or her conscience. That means that one must seek to determine whether fears are based in reason and fact, or they are instead merely — if I may put it this way — superstitions. A correctly formed conscience will come to the conclusion that immunization is a moral obligation.

For those who remain “invincibly ignorant,” and who refuse to acknowledge facts, they must follow their conscience even though it is ill formed.


There is no question, no debate to my mind that parents who refuse immunization of their children do so in the pursuit of what they see as good.  They do not do so from a desire to cause harm to their children or to their communities, but there is still a question of fundamental scientific ignorance in play that leads to vaccine denial.  Not malevolent ignorance, but ignorance none the less.  And ignorance should be met with education wherever possible.


There are excellent resources available to better understand the science of immunization.  I will make and keep up to date in this post a list of resources for those who seek to understand the science of immunization.  It is natural to have questions, concerns, fears and uncertainty about this topic especially given how pervasive myths are about vaccines.  But none of those fears nullify the obligation we have to our children, and to each other.


To close, and with my thanks to Dr. Furton for allowing me to share his words:

“We are rational creatures and science represents our best understanding of how to protect ourselves from the transmission of serious diseases….  In the final analysis, we must rely on what is presently known in order to shape our decisions. Guesswork and unsubstantiated beliefs are not good grounds for moral action.”


Note:  Dr. Furton makes the possible exception of the chicken pox vaccine due to his belief that chicken pox is generally a mild, and less dangerous disease than other diseases currently vaccinated against.  I disagree with this risk assessment and feel that the 100 annual deaths and 11,000 annual hospitalizations in the pre vaccine era, and in particular the risk to the pregnant, the immunocompromised such as children who have received organ transplants, the elderly and the medically at risk make the chicken pox vaccine very important to obtain even though it is grown in fetal cell culture.  

Vaccine Education Resources


Vaccine Education Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Vaccines, Course at Coursera






81 thoughts on “Science, Superstition and the Duty to Vaccinate

    • Dr. Furton did not specifically mention Gardasil, but I would refer you back to the previous post on this blog about Gardasil. I think that there is a difference between rejecting Gardasil at nine, ten, eleven and rejecting it outright. I also would think that there is probably an obligation to find out why the vaccine is recommended then (the risk of sexual assault against children is a real concern, and the immune response was superior in younger girls.) I would encourage the default to be to trust the recommendation from medical professionals and to search for the answers you need in order to be at peace and understand why a recommendation is being made. You should never have to go against your conscience but it is incumbent on the person with concerns to look for the answers to the questions they have and be willing to listen to the answers given. Gardasil is a very safe vaccine that offers protection against cancers of the cervix, as well as oral and throat cancers. HPV can be transmitted any number of ways, including potentially through deep (ie French) kissing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Unfortunately the response you received from the Center is both misleading and overwrought–it does not authentically reflect an adequate understanding of Catholic moral theological principles. It’s too simplistic.

    It may well be the consultant’s or even the Center’s stance that there is a “moral duty” to immunize one’s child, but the magisterium of the Catholic Church has never said this, and for good reason.

    The simple truth is that a parent does *not* have to choose an action that involves a potential risk of serious harm to one’s child. And, as long as vaccine use poses such a potential threat, a parent’s prudential judgment may be such that they believe it’s more prudent *not* to act than it is to act.

    It is also true that parents have to weigh the consequences of *not* acting in this case. What risks are involved in opting out of vaccines? And obviously there are risks here, too.

    The bottom line is that a parent does not have to risk serious harm to his/her own child out of a sense of “duty” to the common good. A parent *may* do this, if the associated good seems proportionate to the risk, but no parent *must* do this.

    There is no “moral duty” to immunize, at least not according to Catholic moral theology.

    Further, it’s disingenuous to presume “superstition” and “invincible ignorance” are the only possible bases for a decision not to immunize. That’s ultimately an insufficient caricature of the landscape of this discussion.

    The Center has a right to a public stance as to what it thinks is a better choice, no doubt. But it does *not* have a right to suggest that the only morally correct course for a Catholic is the “duty” to vaccinate.


    • “The simple truth is that a parent does *not* have to choose an action that involves a potential risk of serious harm to one’s child.”

      So a parent doesn’t have to give their child solid food, because they might choke? They don’t have to ever let their child ride in a car or on a bike, because they might get in an accident? Or learn to cook, because they could burn the house down? There are risks to all sorts of everyday things that parents are obligated to do for their kids. And all the things I just listed are more likely to happen than a serious injury from a vaccine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer–No one is “obligated” to fulfill “your” expectations or understanding regarding what is best for his/her child. One parent might slice up a hot dog into bite-size chunks for their toddler, while another doesn’t. One parent might minimize travel because of accident risk, another might not. One parent might let a four-year-old boil eggs, another not.

        As long as:

        1. Vaccines continue to have a measurable failure rate.
        2. Vaccines continue to have a measurable rate of serious injury to children receiving them.

        Then parents will, according to authentically Catholic principles of moral theology, remain free to determine *which* set of risks they will expose their children to–those risks associating with vaccination, or those risks associated with not vaccinating.


      • Btw, the polio vaccine introduction is an interesting example to choose, given the contamination issues that were discovered to be associated with its original production.

        I certainly fault no one who said yes to the polio vaccine when it was introduced in the 1950s. But a fully informed “yes” at that time would have been preferable, right? But it was not known immediately that contamination issues existed in the production at that time.

        Thus, I’d certainly fault no one who at that time might have opted out because they were not persuaded that the vaccine was sufficiently safe; after all, it turned out the vaccine was indeed less safe than originally thought, right?


      • Well now, Jim, you’re now discussing two separate issues.

        That’s ok. I can help you out.

        The contamination issue you spoke of – that was the SV40 virus, which was present in some vaccines between 1955-1963. There have been no reported issues health wise regarding exposure to SV40.

        When polio was no longer a risk in the western hemisphere, we switched from the OPV to the IPV – which had zero chance of causing vaccine derived polio.

        We switched because at that point – the risk of harm from the vaccine outweighed the benefits that the vaccine could confer. Which was the proper ethical decision.

        Hope that helps.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Darwy–yes, very helpful reply. Thanks.

        So, originally, the polio vaccine offered both a) exposure to a virus not thought to be actively present in the vaccine and b) the possibility of actually contracting polio *from* the vaccine.

        And now the current vaccine has eliminated both of these possibilities? Seems encouraging.

        But you say polio is no longer a risk in the Western hemisphere?


      • There is always a risk of importation until the virus is eliminated in the wild, however polio has not been endemic to the western hemisphere for a number of decades.

        This is why vaccines are so important – we could absolutely rid the world of measles if vaccine uptake were high enough across the globe. We eliminated smallpox – we have nearly eradicated HiB disease from the US.

        Because individuals are choosing (wrongly) to forgo vaccinations, we are seeing things like measles, etc again in the United States. It’s only a matter of time before we see deaths again from measles, or from SSPE.

        It is not an ethical decision to leave your child at risk of disease, nor is it an ethical decision to knowingly risk the health of another person because you refuse to vaccinate.


      • Then why is it an “ethical decision” to knowingly risk your child’s health via the potential adverse effects of vaccine administration?

        You’ve just got done telling me that’s the way polio was eradicated in this hemisphere–by knowingly risking individual children’s health (even to the point of possibly exposing them to the disease being vaccinated against) for the sake of the common good.

        Well, you just can’t have it both ways. If that’s okay to do, then you just can’t accuse those opting out of doing the same thing…


      • Jim said:

        Then why is it an “ethical decision” to knowingly risk your child’s health via the potential adverse effects of vaccine administration?

        You’ve just got done telling me that’s the way polio was eradicated in this hemisphere–by knowingly risking individual children’s health (even to the point of possibly exposing them to the disease being vaccinated against) for the sake of the common good.

        Well, you just can’t have it both ways. If that’s okay to do, then you just can’t accuse those opting out of doing the same thing…

        Again, the IPV cannot cause polio (in case you forgot that bit).

        The risks of the vaccine are minuscule compared to the risk of the disease. The moral choice will always be to vaccinate – so that your child, and other children have the best possible health outcome.

        Hope that helps.


  2. I’m glad to see that NCBC understands that there is, indeed, a moral obligation to vaccinate children against diseases – and to help protect those individuals who cannot be vaccinated themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No such moral obligation thus far found in the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church….rather than “obligation,” parents must be ready to make choices based on their best understanding of evidence and circumstances, which does not translate automatically to “obligation”….


      • …and as your previous response regarding ‘contamination’ and confusing that with replacing the OPV with the IPV indicates, you don’t have a very good understanding of the evidence nor the circumstances.

        Have a lovely evening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Darwy! I’m pretty sure I will. You too.

        But, as to what I don’t understand, I’m grateful to learn, so thanks for the clarification.

        As to what I *do* understand–in this case, what the Church obliges and does not oblige, I’ll stand by that….


      • Your interpretation of the Catholic Church is your own – the NCBC disagrees with you.

        Given their credentials (scientific and otherwise), their opinion carries more weight than yours.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Darwy–feel free to discern–for yourself–which view carries more “weight”. That’s the whole point.

        But you don’t get to discern which view carries more weight for anyone *else*.


      • We don’t get to discern for others? Isn’t that part of guiding and teaching? Teach our children the right path? That we have a moral obligation to others in our community? That it’s our duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves?

        It’s rather disheartening that you’re opting to ‘pick and choose’ which tenets you feel are appropriate for your interactions with others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There are many things that parents–and parent alone, in the sight of God–are called upon to decide for their children. This question is one of them. Parents are called to learn, but they are under no obligation to favor your opinion over anyone else’s opinion in areas in which the teaching authority of the Church offer parents the liberty to discern what is in their children’s best interests…


      • …and yet universally, we are called upon to love our neighbor, to give of ourselves, to help those in need, and to be a contributing part of our community.

        Yet you’re claiming otherwise, despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the rationality and morality of vaccinations for Catholics.

        Again – this sounds like it’s more of a personal problem (ie: yours) given the evidence supporting vaccinations – ethically, morally and scientifically.

        Liked by 2 people

      • A “personal problem”? Nice!

        But, please, really, pay attention to what I’m saying and what I’m *not* saying.

        I have *never* said that it’s not reasonable or moral to say yes to vaccines. Never.

        What I am saying is that people who vaccinate don’t automatically get to assume that people who don’t are superstitious ignoramuses who are being irrational and immoral….


      • …other than we’ve already discussed that it is, infact, immoral to risk the health of your children and the health of others in the community if you don’t vaccinate. (Exceptions for those who *cannot* be vaccinated, of course.)

        The reasons you’ve brought to the discussion haven’t been rational – confusing contamination with phasing out a vaccine for a new version, etc. Which does show that you’re not all that educated regarding vaccines – but because you continue to attempt to discuss them – would make the average person call you ignorant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow–you just really really wanna keep making this personal, don’t you?

        Feel free.

        I *love* learning new stuff, actually, which implies how deeply ignorant I am of many things (since I don’t already know them). Glad to “own” that title.

        On the other hand, I do happen to have some awareness that vaccination is far from the Eighth Sacrament of the Catholic Church. There is no existing moral imperative for a parent to choose vaccination over non-vaccination at this time, given the different layers of risk that remain associated with each decision.

        Which in turn means there is no rational or moral basis for casting aspersions on the decisions made by parents who choose *either* route.

        It’s just fundamentally ludicrous to assert that, for example, in 1957, parents somehow faced a “moral obligation” to expose their child to the risk of contracting polio by allowing the child to be immunized *against* polio….

        Again, it’s something a parent *may* choose to do, but it’s not something a parent *must* do, at least according to the Church’s moral theology…


      • In the 50’s, the risk of contracting polio from the vaccine was DWARFED by the risk of contracting polio without the vaccine.

        There’s a reason why parents (and children) were lining up in the streets to take the vaccine. The risk of vaccine derived polio was estimated to be 1 in 2.7 million doses of the polio vaccine, while tens of thousands contracted polio each year prior to the vaccine being introduced.

        The moral and rational choice would always be to vaccinate.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Sure. But the 2.7 millionth child who got polio from the vaccine does *not* “owe” us their contracting of the disease from the vaccine just so everyone *else* has a more reasonable chance to avoid it. That’s not how morality works. We don’t force parents to open up themselves to *that* particular lottery even to save the entire planet.


      • Darwy–it sounds like you have some actual Church teaching you’d like to share, then? If so, I’d love to see the magisterial source for what you claim “the Church espouses” and compare it to what I’ve stated. Happy to take a look.


      • A day later, shall I assume, Darwy, that you have no Church teaching to share with us to support your claim my interpretation “falls flat” when compared to what the “Church espouses”? If you do have some, let me know, and I’ll keep checking back…thanks.


      • I’m sorry – but I didn’t get notified of an update to your thread. Pardon my tardiness in replying.

        As I stated previously, the NCBC quite plainly states that we have a moral duty to vaccinate our children.


      • Ok–I see, then–what you *mean* to say when you say…

        “Your interpretation of what is moral, again, falls flat from what the Church espouses”.

        …is that my interpretation falls flat from what the *NCBC* espouses.

        The NCBC speaks for *itself*, not for the Magisterium or for the Catholic Church.

        This, of course, means that we are actually in *agreement* that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has not told the faithful that we have a “moral duty to vaccinate our children.” If it had, then both you *and* the NCBC would be able to produce evidence of this.

        Instead, we parents have a “moral duty” to do our best to determine what is in the best interest of our children, and act according to that determination…


  3. This is something of a side issue, but while generally we feel that we should use vaccines to protect our children, we ran into quite a conundrum with the vaccines employing aborted fetal cells. After going round and round and trying to look at every possible angle we have decided that we will likely vaccinate with them, but it is still very much an action which requires us to go against our consciences with regard to the evil done to the aborted child and the ongoing exploitation of this child’s cell lines. The NCBC website states that there is no obligation for people to make objections when using these vaccines but this seems to directly contradict a letter from the Pontifical Academy for Life on this subject. I guess my caution is that we need to always evaluate what people are saying, no matter what group they are with. I wish the NCBC would change its statement, personally, to encourage people to object so that some progress could be made in changing the vaccines that are available.


    • For myself, this was not an issue.

      A fetus was aborted in the 60’s. Well before I was born. While the act itself is not something I condone – the sacrifice of that child has saved the lives of millions across the world, and will continue to do so for decades – in the form of the MMR vaccine.


      • I don’t know if you are catholic? We believe people are created in the image of God and have such worth that we could never pretend like it is a worthwhile sacrifice because lots of lives have been saved. I’m glad if lives are saved but it is not okay that a child was killed in order to make that happen. The Church has offered guidance on this subject in the letter I mentioned above and in Dignitas Personae. It would seem that the Church also considers the ongoing use of these cell lines by pharmaceutical companies and researchers to be morally illicit. If you would happen to be involved in such research or marketing, production etc of said vaccines the Church considers it an issue for you. Even as someone not involved in those activities, the Church considers it a serious issue for you. That is my understanding.



        What do I do if there is no alternative to a vaccine produced from these cell lines?

        One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.


      • Dawry, I know what the NCBC says, been there, done that. Yes, we may indeed use these until there are alternatives. Still, it does not cease to pose a problem and the letter from the Pontifical Academy describes this ongoing situation as a type of “moral coercion” that must be changed as soon as possible. Thus, it is still an “issue” for us, requiring us to make conscientious objections, protests etc. and certainly pray for a change in this unjust situation.


      • Again, ‘a child was killed in order to make that happen’ – that’s not the case. The child wasn’t aborted with the intent to make a vaccine from it.

        That is the distinction which should be noted.

        As far as coercion – the simple fact of the matter – changing the formulation of a vaccine as established as the MMR will not occur anytime soon, simply because of the use of a cell line.

        The financial cost of research, development, safety testing, etc., is not validated by a ‘need’ for a vaccine that does not use the cell line.

        With regards to ‘moral coercion’

        “As regards the diseases against which there are no alternative vaccines which are available and ethically acceptable, it is right to abstain from using these vaccines if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health. However, if the latter are exposed to considerable dangers to their health, vaccines with moral problems pertaining to them may also be used on a temporary basis. The moral reason is that the duty to avoid passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is grave inconvenience. Moreover, we find, in such a case, a proportional reason, in order to accept the use of these vaccines in the presence of the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent, due to the lack of vaccination of children. This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles15.

        In any case, there remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously and unethically. However, the burden of this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population – especially with regard to pregnant women.”

        Forgoing the use of the MMR does place other children and pregnant women at risk of disease.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It seems you are misunderstanding my comment. I am not advocating that people should not use the vaccine. I am stating what the PAL letter says. It does speak about moral coercion and the need to change this situation.n You have copied portions of the letter but left out portions also. If you copied the whole letter, you would see that indeed what I have stated is correct. There are many things which the letter is addressing, it is 8 pages long.

        As for the aborted child, indeed, researchers were cooperating with the act of abortion to obtain the tissues quickly and preserve them. The determination that these acts are cooperating with evil is described in detail in the PAL letter. If you don’t like their determination, take it up with them, I guess.


      • I have the entire letter.

        The summary is quite clear:

        To summarize, it must be confirmed that:

        -there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems;

        – as regards the vaccines without an alternative, the need to contest so that others may be prepared must be reaffirmed, as should be the lawfulness of using the former in the meantime insomuch as is necessary in order to avoid a serious risk not only for one’s own children but also, and perhaps more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole – especially for pregnant women;

        – the lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense, also active, morally justified as an extrema ratio due to the necessity to provide for the good of one’s children and of the people who come in contact with the children (pregnant women);

        – such cooperation occurs in a context of moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.

        The letter also clearly gives responsibility to parents for opting out of vaccination – and the effects of spreading a disease like rubella to pregnant women:

        This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles, because of the danger of Congenital Rubella Syndrome. This could occur, causing grave congenital malformations in the foetus, when a pregnant woman enters into contact, even if it is brief, with children who have not been immunized and are carriers of the virus. In this case, the parents who did not accept the vaccination of their own children become responsible for the malformations in question, and for the subsequent abortion of foetuses, when they have been discovered to be malformed.


      • Okay so are you disagreeing with something I’ve said? Because I don’t get what the argument is? My original point is simply that this is an unjust situation which must be changed and thus it is an “issue” for all of us. It does not cease to be a problem no matter which choice a person makes about vaccinating. The moral problem persists. And primary to why it is a moral problem, is that we cannot simply behave like this child who was/ is exploited is no big deal to us now because we just care that we got something out of it.


      • The moral choice to protect children here and now is apparently what we’re arguing about.

        As I said – the fetus which was used for the cell line was not aborted for that purpose.

        Refusing the MMR vaccine places other women, children and fetuses in harm’s way – which is the larger moral issue. Especially given that infection with rubella during pregnancy often costs the life of the fetus.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m still not talking about refusing a vaccine. None of my posts are about that. So I’m not arguing about that. How come you are?

        The fact that the parents didn’t abort their child to create vaccines is not the relevant fact that makes this situation unjust. Really, this is laid out in the PAL letter. I’m not sure why you keep stating that the child wasn’t aborted for that purpose, like it makes a case for something. What case are you making?

        Are you refuting something I’ve said?


      • You said, “ I’m glad if lives are saved but it is not okay that a child was killed in order to make that happen.

        A child wasn’t ‘killed in order to make that happen’ – the child was not aborted for the purpose of research.

        The NCBC, etc have made the distinction that, while the abortion which occurred was wrong, use of the vaccine is, in fact morally justified.

        the lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense, also active, morally justified as an extrema ratio due to the necessity to provide for the good of one’s children and of the people who come in contact with the children (pregnant women.


      • Again, I’m not arguing that it is immoral to use the vaccines, only that they still pose problems, moral problems, which require our attention and make them an issue for us. This I think is why the term moral coercion is used: While we want to use the vaccines for a moral reason, our conscience forces us to be concerned about the immoral acts of aborting and treating a child as biological material and so since there is no alternative at this time we are forced to act against our consciences. So long as these cell lines continue to be used, however, there persists a moral problem.

        As for the distinction, you are citing, a child was killed in order to make the vaccines. What do I mean by this. The researchers were searching for an opportunity to use a fetus for this purpose. They prescreened potential fetuses for use. It was not an after fact of some independent decision made by the parents. It was fore known and intentional involvement. A child was killed, correct? The researchers did choose to make the vaccine from this child correct? Perhaps they might have used animal cell lines but they chose not to for reasons of their own scientific experience and judgements. I’m not sure if this is what you are getting at. This is documented and also taken into account by the PAL, I believe. In any case it does not change the determination made by them that this is an unjust situation. Are you trying to say that somehow it is not unjust, in which case you should challenge the PAL, not me.


      • I do not believe they were looking specifically for fetuses for cells to use for vaccine research specifically. At this point in medical history, pretty much if living tissue was removed from anyone in a research facility someone was going to try to culture it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • To Genevieve, I’m pretty sure I have read a couple of documents pertaining to this question. The following quote pertains to discussion about the origins of WI-38:

        Dr. K McCarthy: It seems to me that there are two things that we worry about in regards to WI-38 cell substrate. First of all, presence of extraneous viral agents; secondly, the possibility of there being human genetic material passed over into the vaccine. I wonder if there is any information about the reasons for aborting that particular embryo that gave rise to WI-38; and if it was from a family, whether we have any information about siblings from the family and whether they are normal?

        Dr.S Plotkin, Philadelphia: I should like to answer Dr. McCarthy’s question. This fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children. There were no familial diseases in the history of either parent, and no history of cancer specifically in the families; I believe this answers Dr. McCarthy’s question.

        I have way to many documents collected on this subject, if I find the others that pertain I will post.


      • Again you make it sound as though the abortion occurred for the purpose of research.

        It did not.

        The fetus was ‘chosen’ by researchers because it was available – and the medical history of the parents known – therefore it was presumably healthy, with no genetic complications or predisposition to developing cancer.

        The line wasn’t developed by Plotkin -the fetal tissue was obtained by Gard at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. It was made available to Hayflick,who used it to develop WI-38 – and Plotkin was one of many researchers who received ampoules of Wi-38 cell culture.

        As far as the worry about viral agents, the cell lines are tested for such agents – as are the growth media used.


      • Dawry, at this point I don’t know what you’re even arguing. I am saying that researchers were involved in selecting fetuses and readying themselves to obtain the tissue prior to abortions taking place. I believe the evidence I have seen suggests as much. However, even if this were not the case, the moral problems remain the same. I don’t know what else to say.


      • I am saying that researchers were involved in selecting fetuses and readying themselves to obtain the tissue prior to abortions taking place.

        Except that’s not the case.

        Dr. Gard obtained the tissue in Sweden. Hayflick developed the WI-38 cell line from it. Hayflick then *offered* the line to other researchers – of which Plotkin was one.

        Plotkin was not involved in obtaining the tissue nor the development of the cell line.


      • Yes, I think it is the case. There were many people collaborating in this area of research. I posted one source which you can read if you like. It would probably be better than me trying to explain it in a com box. There are many documents you can access through It is my understanding that there was a working relationship between Gard and the Wistar Institute, by which they would recieve fetal tissue through their collaboration. Please read the source and see what I’m referring to.
        In any case, what consequence is it to the discussion of this being a moral problem? Or is there some other concern you have.


      • I’m not asking you to like cogforlife. All of their references are noted and many are able to be accessed easily through their links. It just makes a handy way to access the sources. Many of them are first hand from the researchers involved . I think what you are telling me is that you prefer to ignore sources when you don’t want to hear that side. In that case, nothing I can do.


      • Unfortunately, the quality of the research is where I have an issue – not the availability of links.

        As an example:

        Statistical analysis on the data for the entire US yields a correlation coefficient (R2) of 0.9598. For those of you who don’t understand statistics, an R2 of 0.9598 is very significant.”

        This is not a true statement. The R2 of 0.9598 does not mean the results are significant or causative. It just means those data correlate with each other.

        As an example:

        US spending on science, space, and technology
        correlates with Suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation with an R2 value of 0.992082.

        Are you now going to promote the idea that promoting science results in suicides?

        Deisher makes the same error – she has no evidence of causation – simply because the data correlates, does not make it a valid relationship between cause and effect.


      • That has absolutely nothing to do with the subject. You are able to look at all sources and tell who produced them. Are you going to tell me you never read books from the library because sometimes you find comic strips there? That would be dumb. Give me a break. Just read the sources or don’t.


      • The quality of the information presented is irrelevant to you?

        Again; the quality of the science presented at CFL is lacking. I showed you one such piece of ‘science’ they present on their site.

        It’s not a matter of ‘just reading the sources or not’ – you have to evaluate the information presented, and whether or not it is accurate.

        As I showed with the previous comment – the level of science put forth at CFL is lacking. That’s why I prefer actual science sites for scientific information.


      • Yes, you have to evaluate them. Exactly. And in order to do that you have to read them. Which you are unwilling to do, right? Because you don’t like cogforlife. And even though I’m telling you that the actual researchers are quoted and links to their papers are there and all the references are noted, many of the scientific and historical documents pertaining to this subject are there, you still just don’t want to, right?

        Cogforlife life is not the author of the references they list, you do realize that? Therefore you cannot conclude that those sources are somehow irrelevant just because you don’t like cogforlife.


      • I have read them – which is why I say that cogforlife is not a great source of science information.

        As a gentle reminder:

        Statistical analysis on the data for the entire US yields a correlation coefficient (R2) of 0.9598. For those of you who don’t understand statistics, an R2 of 0.9598 is very significant.”

        This is not a true statement. The R2 of 0.9598 does not mean the results are significant or causative. It just means those data correlate with each other.

        Many of the articles, etc written or linked there have the same problems – their conclusions are not supported by their data, or they have not handled their data properly.


      • Also, I meant to include in my last post, that we are not solely talking about the scienctific facts but also the historical facts. The history as to how the fetuses were obtained and used.


      • So you’ve read one article written by one author, who is not cogforlife, by the way, on a completely different topic, and you’ve concluded that all other information by other actual scientists and authors must be flawed and “mishandled”? Awesome logic. Whatever.


      • No, I used that as an example of the problems I’ve found with studies and data used on the site.

        Unfortunately, cogforlife is rife with those issues, which is why I don’t consider them a valid source for scientific information.


      • More misleading statements:

        “Note to our readers: This is very good news that Novartis has produced their flu vaccine using non-aborted fetal cell lines. However their competitors like Sanofi Pasteur and Crucell NV are still trying to use the dangerous and unproven aborted fetal cell line PER C6. Write to thank Novartis for their consideration of the public’s moral sensibilities!

        The PER C6 line is neither dangerous nor unproven. It’s been under development, study and observation for safety for over a decade.

        Again – problematic, unsubstantiated statements like that are just littered all over CFL’s homepage.


      • Well I guess that’s convenient. I”m guessing you haven’t read the sources, because you’re generalization doesn’t hold water. I’ve already laid out pretty much everything as to why this remains a moral issue. Not much else to say. Good luck to you Darwy.


      • Your reliance on ‘convenience’ over accuracy is rather disheartening. As I’ve said before, I’ve read the links and sources at cogforlife. They are, quite simply, substandard.

        Again – with regards to morality – even the NCBC says use of the vaccines is the moral choice to protect children.


    • A.H. The main problem with that idea is that not enough people would object (even if the Church was encouraging us to do so in great earnest and to refuse vaccines) and there would still not be enough outcry to make a new vaccine worthwhile. There will always be most schools requiring mandatory vaccinations (which I do not object to), there will always be a large population who are not catholic and do not have the same moral concerns that we do. You would have to get a majority of people refusing vaccines and demanding a new one for that strategy to work. What would be refreshing would be to see the Catholic groups and organizations dedicated to demonizing the MMR because of the moral concerns around it instead use their money towards creating a new vaccine. Wouldn’t that make far more sense?

      Liked by 3 people

      • I have no idea what groups you are talking about but my understanding is that there is an organization that is trying to produce a new vaccine.
        As for the rest, whether or not we imagine there would be enough outcry, the NCBC should still make people aware of the need to voice objections and not say the opposite of what the PAL advises. I’m not gifted to see the future, so I would appreciate the NCBC at least giving people the right information.


    • AH I wish we could get something off the ground particularly as concerns not developing further vaccines in fetal cell culture. I think that commitment is a reasonable goal (it costs precisely nothing to try to use other cell culture media when making a new vaccine, whereas remaking an old vaccine in a new culture would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars range) and I suggested to Dr. Furton that that might actually be a place where something might be accomplished. It is truly unfair that the fetal cell culture objection gets lumped in with general vaccine denialism.


  4. The problem here is that the syllogism in this post is based on false principles; the first being the
    “scientifically established and clearly beneficial programs of vaccination”
    What if the vaccines (also erroneously referred to as immunizations, though many confer no immunity) DON’T work? What if there is NO scientifically established benefit to mass vaccination?
    Then what is our moral obligation?
    I suggest people on both sides of this argument read the book,
    “Dissolving Illusions” by Suzanne Humphries, M.D.
    as a starting point. Learn what helped to eradicate the deadly diseases of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and when vaccines were introduced in relation to the decline of disease.
    Learn what vaccines do, and don’t do, for people’s health.
    Learn, also, to trust the infinite wisdom of the Creator who designed our amazing immune systems.


    • Theoretically, that would be an interesting moral discussion to have. Unfortunately, there is no “what if”. Vaccines do work. That’s a scientific fact. And it’s why the Catholic Church tells us that we have a moral duty to vaccinate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • After you read Dissolving Illusions, or study original source data on diseases & death for the last two centuries, will you still say that vaccines work? Does the DtaP/ whooping cough vaccine “work”? The Catholic Church does not say we have a moral duty to vaccinate. A Catholic ethicist hypothesizes that “there is indeed a moral duty to immunize one’s child and so help preserve the public good through the use of scientifically established and clearly beneficial programs of vaccination.”
        But what if there are no scientifically established or clearly beneficial vaccinations? What then?
        In addition to a well formed conscience, one also needs a sound intellect and factual information.


      • Please, already, enough with the “Catholic Church tells us” stuff. It’s NOT what the Church says. Our moral duty is to do what we, as parents, think is best for our kids. Full stop.

        Do what you will, but please try not to speak for the Catholic Church on this issue….

        I’m totally open to seeing an actual QUOTE of something from the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church explaining my “moral duty” in this regard, but if you can’t actually find one, then let’s drop the pretense….

        Liked by 1 person

    • I recommend that you read “Do Vaccines Cause That?!!” by Dr. Martin G. Meyers and Diego Pineda and then look critically at your book “Dissolving Illusions” and see how you feel about it.

      Suzanne Humphries is not well respected on this topic because she does not present facts, but fear and suspicion.


  5. Thank you for sharing this. This is a perfectly rational summary of the issue we face when considering whether or not to vaccinate. When we have the facts, we do not have a choice to ignore them and follow our own desires. Obviously, without a medical contraindication, the facts support vaccination.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s