JULY 1, 2022
- SCOTUS declined Thursday to take up a challenge to New York’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
- In his dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas repeated misleading claims that vaccines were developed using cells of “aborted children.”
Justice Clarence Thomas repeated a misleading claim on Thursday that COVID-19 vaccines were developed using cell lines from “aborted children.”
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 vote to leave New York’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in place after petitioners challenged the mandate over its lack of a religious exemption.
In his dissenting opinion, Thomas wrote that the petitioners — which included 16 healthcare workers from the state — “object on religious grounds to all available COVID-19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children,” citing the petitioners’ complaint in his dissent.
While it is true that fetal cell lines were crucial for testing the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, the fact is often misconstrued into debunked claims that recently aborted fetuses were used to create the vaccines or that the vaccines themselves contain aborted fetal cells.
In reality, the cell lines were grown in a laboratory by extracting cells from two elective abortions performed several decades ago, according to a handout guide from the North Dakota Department of Health addressing the subject of vaccines and fetal cell lines. Specifically, the cells came from a kidney cell line isolated from a fetus in 1973 and a retinal cell line from an aborted fetus in 1985.
Elective means that the abortion was voluntary and not done for the sole purpose of vaccine development.
These cell lines have been critical in the research and development of other more common forms of treatment, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and cold medication.
“Any vaccine that relies on these historic cell lines will not require nor solicit new abortions,” according to the handout by the North Dakota Department of Health. “While fetal cell lines may be used to develop or manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccines themselves do not contain any aborted fetal cells.”
In its guide, the North Dakota Department of Health wrote that the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life policy organization, found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “ethically uncontroversial,” and also quotes the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops saying that “one may receive any of the clinically recommended vaccines in good conscience.”
Some supporters of Thomas argue that the justice was merely repeating the claims made by the healthcare workers, according to Politico.
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his dissenting opinion.