I came across an interesting article the other day. I am not usually one to believe the right-wing propagandist papers, especially the smaller, less supervised publications. My father, an adamant pro-lifer, feels otherwise. From time to time I pick up one of his magazines to see how the other half lives.

On the back of a "Life-Lines" magazine from the Rochester Area Right to Life Commitee, under the heading ALERT, was a poorly written and seemingly ridiculous article about a family referred to as the "Smiths" who "discovered" that many chicken pox, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (aka MMR) vaccines, as well as many others, had been cultivated using cells from aborted babies. These cells, which were made to continuously regenerate had been, according to the article, taken from a 22 week old male fetus and a 14 week old female fetus.

Aside from the entire article sounding like it'd had its origins as a bunch of pencil scrawlings in the margins of Paranoid Schizophrenic Weekly magazine ( For every ten words, one was in quotes for no apparent reason; occasionally the Smiths were referred to as the "Jones", again for no reason; and the spelling and grammar was of middle-school quality), the idea propelling this entire article seemed so ridiculous I simply had to investigate. Here's what I found:

  • Several of the Diocesan School Department employees that concerned families have spoken to have stated that vaccines using fetal cell lines are a myth and have been debunked on Urban Legends.
  • As of Oct. 26, 2003 urbanlegends.com has made no mention of any myths regarding vaccines.
  • My mother, also incredulous about the article, wrote to the Center for Disease Control about it and recieved a response stating that it was in fact true-- that for years vaccinations have been created using the aforementioned cells.
  • many attempts by parents to avoid innoculating their children with these vaccines through a sincere religious belief exemption have been denied by the Diocese Department of Catholic Schools-- the exemption would only be given for a "medical" reason

As far as my personal opinion goes, I do have pro-choice leanings. But because of my belief in the idea of "choice", this practice of using aborted fetuses to create innoculations for childhood diseases strikes me as highly disturbing, as well as reminiscent of the McDonalds incedent regarding their use of beef fat in the preparation of their supposedly vegetarian french fries.

Luckily, there seems to be a way around this situation. Although there are only a few, vaccines created from chick embryos (sorry all you vegans) are available, manufactured by the Merck corporation. Because of New York State law, as well as the laws of many other states, vaccinations are required for children attending public and private schools, so the only other option available to those with moral objections is to homeschool.

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