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Catholics for Choice Condemns U.S. Bishops for Playing Politics with People’s Lives by Meddling in the Vaccine Rollout 

March 8, 2021

Catholics for Choice Condemns U.S. Bishops for Playing Politics with People’s Lives by Meddling in the Vaccine Rollout 

WASHINGTON — Catholics for Choice, which uplifts and amplifies the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom, denounced the U.S. bishops today for warning Catholics to avoid the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.

In a statement released Tuesday, the chairmen of two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed concern about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine because it “was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines” and urged the faithful to choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead, should they have the option to do so. Bishops in St. Louis and New Orleans have also issued statements calling the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “morally compromised” and warning their flocks to select an alternative whenever possible.

Catholics for Choice President Jamie L. Manson said:

“In the middle of a deadly global pandemic that’s claimed the lives of well over half a million Americans and devastated countless families and communities across the country, it is outrageous and disgraceful for the bishops to inject their divisive politics into the vaccine effort. We won’t defeat the virus without mass vaccination, but that goal is hindered, not helped, when the bishops sow confusion instead of clarity among Catholics.”

Fetal cell lines have long been used to develop vaccines, and they played a role in the development of all three coronavirus vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) that are currently authorized for emergency use in the United States. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is made using a cell line descended from tissue obtained in an elective abortion back in 1985. The shot itself, however, contains no actual fetal tissue. All three vaccines have been proven safe and effective, and public health experts and medical ethicists overwhelmingly agree that Americans should take the first shot that’s available to them, regardless of which of the three it is, as soon as they are eligible to receive it.

“Any message other than ‘take the first shot you can, as soon as you can’ needlessly puts people’s lives and health at risk,” said Manson. “The bishops’ statement is about as far from ‘pro-life’ as it can get.”


Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.