Ryan C. MacPherson, “Aborted Human Fetal Tissue in Vaccines: Ethical and Legal Considerations amid the Race to a COVID-19 Vaccine," Life and Learning XXX, Proceedings of the Thirtieth University Faculty for Life Conference (2020): 89–112.


For over fifty years, aborted human fetal tissue has been instrumental to the development and mass production of vaccines commonly administered to children. Several candidates in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine also utilize aborted human fetal tissue cell lines. Leading scientists involved in vaccine development openly affirm the dependency of their medical breakthroughs upon aborted (even vivisected) human fetuses and defend this practice by appealing to utilitarian ethics. Informed consent, both as an ethical principle and as a legal guarantee, generally affords competent adults the right to conscientiously refuse medical treatment and, to some degree, the right also to refuse on behalf of their minor children. Although the Jacobson (1905) ruling strongly favors the state’s authority to mandate vaccination, subsequent developments in fundamental rights jurisprudence should tilt the balance in favor of conscientious pro-life objections to abortion-derived vaccines. In the context of a pandemic emergency, however, the exercise of those rights may entail involuntary isolation or quarantine for thirty days or longer. In addition to asserting the rights to conscience, religious liberty, and bodily integrity, those who object to receiving an abortion-derived vaccine would also do well to expose the false assumption that nothing but a vaccine can protect the population against contagious disease.

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Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of Into Your Hands LLC and the author of several books, including Rediscovering the American Republic (2 vols.) and Debating Evolution before Darwinism. He lives with his wife Marie and their homeschooled children in Casper, Wyoming, where he serves as Academic Dean at Luther Classical College. He previously taught American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College, 2003–2023 He also serves as President of the Hausvater Project, which mentors Christian parents. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.

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