MDHHS Begins Implementing Coronavirus Vaccine Fetal Tissue Informed Consent

Lansing, MI — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has begun implementing a provision requiring informed consent for coronavirus vaccines developed using cell lines taken from aborted babies.

The provision is in a pandemic relief supplemental bill signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on March 9, HB 4047.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “We are pleasantly surprised Governor Whitmer didn’t issue a non-enforceability statement. Now we hope the provision will be properly enforced so that people are given real informed consent. Research involving aborted babies is an ongoing ethical concern, so people have a right to know if a medicine they are taking involved purposefully taking human life.”

The MDHHS frequently asked questions document regarding COVID-19 vaccines now has a section explaining the use of fetal cell lines. It’s unclear what else the MDHHS is doing yet to enforce the provision, and if the Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet for Recipients will be updated.

The language in the bill states vaccine recipients “shall be provided with information or informed if and in what manner the development of the vaccine utilized aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem cell derivation lines.”

The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen coronavirus vaccine utilizes cell lines taken from an aborted baby in production. Moderna and Pfizer do not use cell lines taken from aborted babies to produce doses, but used cells lines to test their vaccines. Some other vaccines being researched utilize these cell lines, and others do not.

Right to Life of Michigan is asking people receiving the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine to inform us if they were not given proper informed consent involving the use fetal tissue in vaccine development—either verbally or in written documentation—as well as contact the MDHHS’s Division of Immunization at (517) 335-8159.

The two cell lines from aborted babies being used in coronavirus vaccine research are HEK-293, taken from the kidney of a healthy baby aborted sometime around 1972, and PER.C6, taken from the retina of a healthy baby aborted at 18 weeks in 1985.

Prolife people disagree about the ethics of using vaccines developed from these cell lines. Some point to these cell lines being decades old, and others point out that using them may encourage additional abortions to develop new cell lines. Right to Life of Michigan believes everyone has a right to know to make their own ethical determinations.

For more information: Right to Life of Michigan Legislative Director Genevieve Marnon, (517) 487-3376, gmarnon@rtl.org.

Background information:
MDHHS vaccine FAQ
HB 4047
Coronavirus vaccine cell lines
Origin of HEK-293 and PER.C6

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