Facts about fetal cell lines and Wyo. vaccine laws

The Holiday Inn Aurelia in Rome, Italy will be the site of this week’s 32nd annual International Conference on Vaccines and Immunizations. In anticipation of this event, Renovatio 21 gathered people from around the world to discuss the history, science and politics surrounding the use of aborted children in vaccines around the world.

If that last sentence caught you off guard, let me say it again. For almost fifty years, various pharmaceutical companies have used tissue cultivated from aborted human beings in the manufacture of vaccines for public consumption.

Let me say up front: right or wrong, I am not an anti-vaxxer. I have received many vaccinations myself and have given them to my children. The motivation for this article is neither to support nor to oppose vaccines per se. It is, rather, to inform the reading public of little-known facts.

Information is power. But, for decades the power of this information has been swept under the rug. It’s not that anybody was lying or failing to disclose the information altogether. For decades the necessary information has been printed on the information sheet that accompanies every vial of vaccine.

Have you ever asked your doctor for that information sheet? I never did. I was content to read over the bullet point summary that was given me in 12-point type on a regular-sized piece of paper. But this summary never divulged the fine print on the manufacturer’s information sheet.

On the insert that Merck distributes with its Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, you will read that the vaccine contains: “the Wistar RA 27/3 strain of live attenuated rubella virus propagated in WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts.” Most eyes simply glaze over at these words. But if the word “human” jumps off the page at you, you may wish to learn more.

WI-38 (Wistar Institute-38) is a cell line. According to the ATCC website, it is the lung tissue of a Caucasian girl who was aborted when she was three months into gestation. She was about 3 ½ inches long and weighed a little less than an egg. Dr. Leonard Hayflick took her lung and experimented with cultivating it. He published a paper documenting his success in December, 1961.

In 1970 Dr. Stanley Plotkin used her lung tissue to grow the Rubella virus into a vaccine that was first licensed in Europe in 1970. It was licensed for use in the United States in 1979.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, that same culture is currently used in some Adenovirus and MMR vaccines. It is kept frozen in liquid Nitrogen and sold to pharmaceutical companies that thaw it and keep it growing.

WI-38 is not the only such cell line. MRC-5 (Medical Research Council-5), likewise, is lung tissue from a Caucasian male at 14 weeks. His 27 year-old mother aborted for psychiatric reasons. It was developed in 1966 and is currently used in some DTaP, Hepatitis A, MMR, Rabies, Chickenpox and Shingles vaccines.

These are the undisputed facts. You can watch Dr. Plotkin testify to these facts under oath in a January 2018 YouTube video. The war between vaccination proponents and vaccination opponents is about the significance of these facts. It is not about the facts themselves.

So, what issues do these facts raise?

At the start, there is the issue of consent. Medical ethics absolutely forbids any experimentation on human beings without consent. You may choose to donate your organ for transplant. You may choose to donate your body to science. But without your explicit consent, it is ethically abhorrent to desecrate a human body.

Would this woman (WI-38) and man (MRC-5), who would now be 59 and 53 years old respectively, consent to having parts of themselves injected into millions of people?

A second issue is safety. What effect does it have on a person to have genetic material from another injected into his system? As the cell lines get older, do the effects change? What about implications for the future of humanity as two individuals have had their genetic material exposed to so many millions around the globe?

These issues are being strenuously argued between proponents and opponents of vaccination. One day, perhaps, there will be clear and undisputable answers. But that day is not now. Biochemists and medical doctors still present strong arguments on both sides of the issue.

A third issue is that of morality. Consuming parts of another human being for the sake of gaining physical or spiritual health is one of the most widespread and persistent taboos across all cultures. Many see parallels between this taboo and using fetal material in the manufacture of vaccines.

In May 2012, news broke that South Korean customs agents had seized over 17,000 capsules of dried and ground Chinese babies. Most reports expressed alarm that the babies were not properly sterilized before being dried and ground. What does it say about us, as a culture, that few reported it as a moral abomination in and of itself?

These three issues alone give one considerable pause. No doubt, readers of this column will come to different conclusions about them. Some will dismiss the discussion as over-scrupulous. Others may regard these vaccines as necessary evils. Still others will consider them to be morally abhorrent and unusable under any circumstances.

In 2003 the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, headed by the cardinal who would soon be named Pope Benedict XVI, took up this question. Among four conclusions, it declared: “there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems.” This position has been affirmed by the Catholic Medical Association.

The Christian Medical and Dental Association has also  voiced its concern over ethical problems with vaccines derived from fetal cell lines. Nevertheless, its Position Statement on Immunization stops short of an absolute prohibition of using them.

Are there any conclusions that can be drawn from all this troubling information? I believe there are two things to be said.

First, the public should be better informed. Myriad commercials on TV and radio promote the use of various prescription drugs. We routinely hear a staccato voice at the end of the blurb read off the various label warnings required by the FDA. Why does the FDA not require doctors’ offices to inform people of the presence of fetal cell lines in the vaccines you are encouraged to give your children?

Informed consent is the standard of every medical procedure. Vaccinations should be no exception. At the very least, there is the potential of moral misgivings. There is also the possibility of negative outcomes.

Information, alone, can enable people to weigh the facts. It could also lead drug manufacturers to develop alternatives to meet a widespread public demand. In fact, in some cases alternative vaccines are already available in other countries. Consumer demand could bring them here.

Second, as school districts, state and federal legislators consider laws and policies that would mandate the administration of vaccines, they need to know that a significant number of their constituents may have moral objections. Room must be provided in policy so that parental rights and religious liberty are respected.

Currently Wyoming requires several of the vaccines manufactured with WI-38 and MRC-5. Thankfully, that same law accommodates objections. According to W.S. 21-4-309, “Waivers shall be authorized by the state or county health officer upon submission of written evidence of religious objection or medical contraindication to the administration of any vaccine.” This clause protects the constitutional rights of all Wyoming students.

Jonathan Lange is an LCMS pastor in Evanston and Kemmerer and serves the Wyoming Pastors Network. Follow his blog at OnlyHuman-JL.blogspot.com.