The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has advised Catholics against the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine because it was developed using cells from an aborted foetus.
"Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production," Business Insider reports a statement from the conference said. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was "developed, tested, and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns."
In its place, the conference suggests that when possible, people should take either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines instead, even though both companies used stem cells from aborted foetuses during the testing phase of their vaccine research.
Business Insider reports that the statement follows a previous announcement from the Archdiocese of New Orleans that advised the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was "morally compromised, as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing."
The report says it has reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment.
Pope Francis has yet to specifically address the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but the Vatican previously said it was "morally acceptable" to take vaccines "that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process."
According to Business Insider, the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that while it encouraged pharmaceutical researchers to create vaccines without employing the use of foetuses, it also advised that Catholics would not violate the church's beliefs if they used vaccines created using aborted cells.
The cells used in the development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine derive from a foetus aborted in the early 1970s and have been replicated numerous times across various scientific firms and pharmaceutical companies.
The report says the debate over the use of foetal stem cells has raged for several decades, with anti-abortion advocates arguing that supporting companies that do such research amounts to tacit approval of abortion.
Former President Donald Trump restricted the use of aborted foetal tissue in research during his term, even though Regeneron, the antibody therapy he touted as a "cure" for COVID-19, was tested using foetal cells.
Business Insider reports that the scientific community in the US has released a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to roll back Trump's restrictions to allow for increased foetal tissue use.
Full Business Insider report (Open access)
US Conference of Catholic Bishops statement
Archdiocese of New Orleans statement