December 7, 2021 Editor

Were Moderna & Pfizer’s HEK-293 Tests Immoral?

December 7, 2021

Priest, Religious, Moral Theologian, Autistic, Writer, Social Media Guru, etc.

WN: This is of interest in particular for those concerned about the ethics of the vaccine, with relation to tests done that could be connected to human fetuses.

He offers no definitive answer, says the author, because there is none. The last paragraph of the article indicates which way he tips the hat.


Much of the Catholic discussion around the ethics of vaccines has focused on the remote connection with abortion. There has been an implicit assumption that all testing on HEK-293 is unethical. But not all remote cooperation with evil is immoral. Thus, we need to ask if the tests Moderna and Pfizer did on HEK-293 were immoral on the part of the companies & scientists. I don’t think there is a clear definitive answer, but I will give principles to judge it.

To analyze this I will explain relevant moral principles then analyze the tests using the same principles in the same order.

Three Parts of the Moral Act

The three parts of any action are the object, the end, and the circumstances. The first two must always be 100% good or neutral but, in modern society, circumstances almost always have some imperfection if pushed.

Four points about how the good effect is not the direct result of the evil of abortion.

  • HEK-293 were removed after the abortion so the taking of HEK-293 was not the means of killing the baby.
  • If HEK-293 was from a miscarriage instead of an aborted baby (possible but unlikely), the tests on it would operate the same, and there would likely be no moral evil to speak of.
  • The continued existence of HEK-293 is further removed and not directly causal in any abortion.
  • The tests themselves are not dependant on HEK-293 and could be done with other cells if available.
  • As noted two bullet-points above, we need to look at this rather remote cooperation or appropriation as a negative aspect compared to the great good of hastening the end of the pandemic.
  • Please click on: HEK-293 Tests Immoral?

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    Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

    Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.