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Some religious Utahns conflicted over Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 00:25:18-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Some Utahns with devout religious beliefs have concerns with the methods used to develop the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

This week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called the vaccine “morally compromised” and claimed researchers used cell lines from aborted fetuses to develop the vaccine.

Some Catholics who are anti-abortion now face a serious issue of conscience.

“What is abortion? It’s never been permissible in the Catholic church under any circumstances,” said Ruth Lowe, an anti-abortion advocate. “I know good, practicing Catholics both supporting the vaccines and taking them. I love and look up to them, as well as the other side.”

The Diocese of Salt Lake City is encouraging its parishioners to get the vaccine.

One priest believes doing so can be considered a pro-life act.

“We can receive the vaccine morally. It might even be seen as a moral good to receive it for the better protection of society, for children, vulnerable adults and others who may be at higher risk,” said Father John Evans in a video message to his congregation at St. Thomas More Church in Cottonwood Heights.

In an email to the Johnson & Johnson corporate office, FOX13 asked if stem cells from unborn babies were used to develop the vaccine.

A response from a spokesperson did not specifically answer that question.

"We are proud to bring our COVID-19 vaccine to the world and to contribute to ending this pandemic. In developing our vaccine, we have held ourselves to the highest bioethical standards and guidelines. Our single-shot COVID-19 vaccine uses an inactivated non-infective adenovirus vector – similar to a cold virus – that codes for the coronavirus “spike” (S) protein, and there is no fetal tissue in the vaccine. We are able to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses using our engineered cell-line system and look forward to delivering those doses around the world and help meet the critical need."

While the vaccine could offer an end to the pandemic, those who are anti-abortion wonder, at what cost?

“Who doesn’t want to be without masks or go back to life as normal,” Lowe said. “I want to support those small businesses. I want everyone to thrive. With that, the ends never justify the means. Looking back at all the horrific events, it’s never been justified.”