I'm pretty open about my pro-life views. I want abortion criminalized, banned and recognized as an act of inhumanity. I agree with Mother Theresa that "abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace, because it destroys two lives, the life of the child and the conscience of the mother."
I am also a Catholic, and I am quite proud of the fact that my church is the most vocal, most unapologetically pro-life among the three great monotheistic traditions. I know that there are some Catholics who disagree with the church's position on abortion, including our current president, but that's their burden. They can deal with God when the time comes, and they are called to explain that moral compromise.
While we can never impose Catholic morality on secular law, we do need to follow its guidance in our personal choices. And one of those choices is whether to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
I got my first shot this week. It was the Moderna vaccine, which gave me some relief. The reason for that relief is the main point of this column.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, two of the three that have been cleared for use in the United States, were tested on cells derived from aborted babies.
Those cell lines have been cloned and reproduced, and date back to the 1970s and 1980s. Those two vaccines have some remote, generations-removed connection to elective abortions, but the vaccines themselves are so distant from the act itself that they cannot really be viewed as morally compromised. Not so with the third vaccine, produced by Johnson & Johnson, which used abortion-derived cells in the direct production of the vaccine.
This is where the dilemma arises, for those of us who call ourselves pro-life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out with guidance that essentially tells the faithful that while some of the vaccines are morally compromised, it is better to be vaccinated than not to be. Choices can be made, and in some cases people can opt to wait for the vaccine they feel has less of a connection to the evil of abortion, but ultimately the church says the evil of the pandemic outweighs the temporal evil of using the products of abortion.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith stated last December that "it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process." That principle was echoed by the Vatican COVID-19 commission which stated that "all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience."
As if to punctuate the point, both Popes Francis and Benedict have been vaccinated.
Of course, people have differences of opinion. Many local dioceses are urging people to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if they possibly can. And many have said that they will not take the any vaccine that is connected, even remotely, to dead babies.
As I said, I got my first shot of Moderna. I know that some of my pro-life friends will be skeptical of my choice, given a vocal history of opposing anything that seems-in even the most minuscule way-to advance the "choice" agenda.
I sympathize with them much more than they suspect. That shot in my upper arm did not fill me with euphoria and relief, as many have described themselves in the moments after being vaccinated. It filled me with resignation, and a sense that I was doing something to keep my family safe. It also brought with it the sense of shame that this "safety" came at the expense of lost lives.
Those who don't see abortion as the greatest modern evil will laugh at that feeling, I suppose. They don't understand the horrible implications of benefiting from the death of innocents. They would probably understand it if I said "I don't want to use any drug that was developed from Nazi-era experiments or the Tuskegee syphilis trials." But mention abortion, and their eyes glaze over.
They're irrelevant to me. And at the risk of justifying myself to God, I like to think that those innocent souls that were sacrificed in the 1970s and 1980s have been raised up, glorified, and sanctified by their ability to save future generations from this scourge.
I carry in me their sacrifice, and their legacy. That the church understands this as well is a singular blessing.
And a painful one.
Copyright 2021 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected]