Vatican on Vaccines
Holy Little Saint
We will never forget
By Jameson Taylor, Human Life International
President Bush, in a 12 August NY Times op-ed, defended his decision to fund embryonic stem cell research by citing the widespread use of vaccines derived from fetal tissue. This article addresses the ethical dilemmas posed by such vaccines.
One of the ironies of the Culture of Death is that while a mother can choose to murder her unborn child, parents are not free to care for their children as they choose. Everyone knows of or has heard of a family that has had their children taken away for spanking. Likewise, parents that home school their children know just how intrusive government bureaucrats can be. How much worse can things get? …much, much worse.
As many pro-lifers may already know, six commonly used vaccines—polio, rabies, mumps, rubella (MMR), chickenpox and hepatitis-A—were developed using fetal tissue from aborted infants. Catholic theologians and ethicists have determined that the use of these vaccines comprises “remote material cooperation” with the sin of abortion and, as such, is not necessarily wrong. “A Catholic may want to make a moral statement by refusing the vaccines,” notes Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of Policy Development for the NCCB, “but the people who analyzed the issue didn’t feel that was a moral requirement.” Ultimately, parents must decide for themselves, after prayer and study, what to do.
On 3 May 2001, Human Life International’s South African affiliate, Pro-Life South Africa, petitioned Pope John Paul II to “draw the attention of the world to this hideous practice…[so] that alternative means of vaccine production be urgently brought on line.” “Children of God…For Life,” (cogforlife.org) has information on its website to help parents make an informed decision about the vaccines and has drafted an online petition demanding the creation of pro-life vaccines.
The good news is that, in some cases, substitutes are available. A list of the various options is posted at cogforlife.org. No alternatives, however, exist for chickenpox, rubella and hepatitis-A. Coincidentally, fetal-tissue vaccines for these three ailments are all manufactured by Merck & Co.[i] Merck’s total sales in 2000 were U.S.$40.36 billion. In 1999, Merck’s charitable endeavors exceeded that of all U.S. companies. The John Merck Fund, created by the widow of Merck’s deceased CEO, George W. Merck, has long been known for its willingness to “back controversial issues and small groups.” Francis W. Hatch, former Republican candidate for governor in Massachusetts, administers the fund on behalf of his now-deceased mother-in-law. Under Hatch’s leadership, Merck has become the top supporter of New England’s leading environmental groups. Not coincidentally, Merck provides significant support to Planned Parenthood as well as the PP “iwannaknow” website, Princeton University’s “Emergency Contraception” website, [ex-]Catholics for a Free Choice and Abortion Rights Mobilization (ARM). In 1993, ARM, impatient with FDA delays in approving RU-486, began manufacturing the abortion pill in a rented warehouse. A 1997 grant from the Merck Fund made it possible for ARM to expand its distribution of this back-alley-manufactured-abortion-pill. Danco, formed solely for the purpose of marketing RU-486 (mifepristone) nationwide, is also run by a former Merck executive, Roy Karnovsky.
Given Merck’s murky ties to the Culture of Death, many pro-lifers are refusing to use Merck vaccines created from aborted fetal tissue. The federal government, however, encourages states to force vaccines upon children by giving states $50-$100 for each fully vaccinated child. Most states thus have mandatory vaccine policies that subject the typical child to 33 doses of 9 to 10 different vaccines by kindergarten. By contrast, our grandparents received only one vaccination—for smallpox. Over two hundred additional vaccines are currently in development, with one manufacturer promising that all 12-year olds in the United States will soon be injected with an AIDS vaccine. Other observers are concerned that the U.S. government, as in Mexico and the Philippines, will force or deceive women into accepting vaccines containing anti-pregnancy hormones.
Every state supposedly allows religious and medical vaccine exemptions. But state health officials are notoriously unsympathetic to parents who want to protect their children—body and soul—from these vaccines, even going so far as to abduct such children from their parents.
The courts have ruled that state agencies cannot frustrate parents’ requests for vaccine exemptions. In March 2001, the Rutherford Institute, representing Jeff and Susan Page before the Wyoming Supreme Court, successfully sued the Wyoming State Department of Health for denying the Pages’ request for a religious exemption from the hepatitis-B vaccine. The Pages saw no reason to inoculate their children against a disease that almost exclusively results from intravenous drug use and promiscuous homosexual and heterosexual sex. Declared John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, “The…decision is a resounding affirmation of the right to parents to direct their children’s medical treatment according to their own religious beliefs, without interference from the state.” Similarly, this past May, the Illinois state legislature passed a bill deleting provisions of a 1987 act that required the state’s Department of Children and Family Services to investigateparents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
Parents must be free to choose whether or not their children are vaccinated for two reasons. The first reason is the Constitution. As James Madison, “Father of the Constitution” affirms, all citizens at all times “retain an equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the dictates of conscience.” Adams would have whole-heartedly agreed with the Wyoming Court’s ruling that no government official can question a parent’s conscientious decision to not vaccinate his children. Second, scientists and medical professionals are increasingly worried that some vaccines are not only unnecessary, but also unsafe.
Why is the federal government pushing unnecessary vaccines on America’s children? After an eight month investigation by the House Committee on Government Reform, the answer is clear: pharmaceutical companies essentially control the FDA and CDC advisory committees that determine what vaccines American schoolchildren are required to receive. Concluded Dan Burton (R-IN), chair of the Committee on Government Reform, “We’ve taken a good hard look at whether the pharmaceutical industry has too much influence over these committees. From the evidence we found, I think they do…[possibly] the entire process has been polluted and the public trust has been violated.”
Congress found clear evidence that the vaccine advisory boards are “inappropriately influenced by special interests.” Dr. John Modlin, chairman of the CDC vaccine advisory committee, owned stock in Merck valued at $26,000. Modlin also served on Merck’s Immunization Advisory Board. Dr. Patricia Ferrieri, chairman of the FDA advisory committee, owned stock in Merck worth $20,000. Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the CDC board, held a patent on one of the vaccines affected by the committee’s rulings—a vaccine developed with funding from Merck. Offit also revealed that “he is paid by the pharmaceutical industry to travel around the country and teach that vaccines are safe.” Dr. Harry Greenberg, another chairman of the FDA committee, held significant stock in two vaccine companies. The House committee found many more cases of apparent conflicts of interest among vaccine committee members, concluding that “it almost appears that there is an ‘old boys network’ of vaccine advisors that rotate between the CDC and FDA.”
According to the New York Times, pharmaceutical companies spent $5.3 billion in 1998 alone to convince lawmakers, doctors, scientists and consumers to use or force others to use their products. As Congressman Burton’s committee found, doctors and scientists are not immune to such persuasion. The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine was itself compelled to apologize to its readers for having violated—19 times in three years—its own financial conflict-of-interest policies regarding reviews of new drug treatments.
Because of the rampant corruption plaguing the vaccine approval process, more and more doctors and scientists are questioning the safety of additional vaccines. The National Academy of Sciences issued a 1994 report that found serious problems “concerning a general deficiency of safety testing in the vaccine field, especially as concerns long-term side effects.” Experts are calling for more studies on whether vaccines are linked to significant increases in asthma, diabetes, autism and learning disabilities. For these reasons, in November 2000, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons unanimously called for a moratorium on all government mandated vaccines.
It is an interesting coincidence that the same vaccines developed using fetal tissue have proven to be among the least necessary and most dangerous on the market. Doctors readily admit that children have virtually no chance of getting Hepatitis-A or B. Hearings before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources in May 1999 revealed that thousands of children have been severely injured or killed by the hep-B vaccine. Over 16 peer-reviewed medical articles have linked multiple sclerosis, autism and other neurological and immunological disorders to the vaccine. Of course, the FDA approved the hep-B vaccine—manufactured by Merck & Co.—after Merck submitted “long-term” safety studies that consisted of a mere 653 healthy infants monitored for only five days after each vaccination! As one doctor asked Congress: “How can an experiment such as universal hepatitis-B vaccination be adopted nationwide?…Apparently this was accomplished by the joint efforts of an official of an agency that stood to gain much influence and power by the program and by an executive of a drug company which stood to make billions of dollars.”
Though the federal government rescinded the vaccine’s mandate on July 9, 1999 (the year before, French health officials had also stopped using the vaccine), most states still require hepatitis-A and B vaccinations. On 17 June 1999, the government also revoked approval of the oral polio vaccine. The vaccine itself had proven to be the sole cause of polio in the United States since 1979. In addition, the vaccine is suspected of causing encephalitis.
Concerned parents in Illinois prevented a statewide chickenpox vaccine mandate by demonstrating that the vaccine is probably more dangerous than the virus itself. According to the Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, “the federal government received reports of 12,635 adverse reactions to the chickenpox vaccine, 31 deaths and 590 serious complications.” The Coalition estimates that the actual death toll may be far greater owing to the fact that an estimated 99 percent of adverse reactions to vaccines are unreported. As of last summer, the federal government continued to withhold data on the side effects of the Hep-B and chickenpox vaccines.
Finally, as revealed in separate hearings before the Committee on Government Reform, the MMR vaccine may cause or contribute to autism and enterocolitis. In Japan, the MMR vaccine has been banned since 1993. While scientists debate the actual safety of the vaccine, it has become clear that neither the FDA nor the CDC can be trusted to determine which vaccines parents should give their children. Whatever informed decision parents make concerning the use of fetal-tissue vaccines, it is time for us all to stand up for the right to choose! vaccines that are morally acceptable, truly necessary and credibly safe.
Note 1: SmithKline Beecham also manufactures a fetal tissue Hepatitis-A vaccine.
Printed with permission of Human Life International