The US Supreme Court yesterday refused to grant an injunction to stop the implementation of Maine’s requirement that nearly all health workers be vaccinated or lose their jobs.
Maine requires nearly all health care workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. It argues that this requirement is necessary because those workers are unusually likely to interact with patients who are vulnerable to the disease, and because the state’s health care system could potentially be disabled if too many health care workers are infected. The state does exempt a very narrow slice of health care workers, however: those who risk adverse health consequences if they are vaccinated, such as people with serious allergies to the vaccine.
Some medical personnel had asked that they be exempted because of their faith since they claimed that abortion-related materials was used in the vaccines. They argued that if exemptions can be granted for health-related reasons, then they should also be granted for religious reasons.
This particular abortion-related religious exemption argument has been advanced before but even the Catholic church says that it should not be an issue.
Staver said the workers object to the vaccines because of the way that they were either “developed, researched, tested, produced or otherwise developmentally associated with fetal cell lines that originated in elective abortions.”
It is an argument that has been made before. The Catholic Church and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s highest doctrinal authority, have wrestled with the moral permissibility of receiving Covid-19 vaccines because of their distant relation to fetal cell lines developed from abortions in the 1970s and 1980s.
The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were developed using aborted cell lines, though the final product does not contain fetal cells. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were not manufactured from fetal cell lines and the final product does not contain fetal cells, although their testing used these cell lines.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a note approved by Pope Francis that receiving the shot was morally permitted. “It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” the note said.
Their request for an injunction pending a full review of the case was denied by a 6-3 vote. You can read the short order and the long dissent here.