Public Health v. Ethics

State Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) has sponsored legislation that would allow parents to object to having their children vaccinated on the basis of religious objections. What might be unethical about vaccinations? According to critics, they’re forced rather than voluntary. (In Mississippi, by the way, parents may choose not to have their kids vaccinated, but those children are not allowed to attend day care or schools until they are.) The religious objection comes from the fact that some vaccines were derived by using the tissue of aborted fetuses.

Mississippi actually leads the nation in the percentage of kids who receive standard vaccinations. HB 1505 will provide an interesting case study of the way our state’s citizens weigh professed religious faith against common sense.

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7 Responses to Public Health v. Ethics

  1. Dev Jaiswal says:

    People should not see taking measures to protect the general health of the community as unethical. Vaccines are an important technological advancement that gives society one measure to help combat disease. I understand that many, especially those in the southern Bible belt, are reluctant because certain vaccines are made from the tissues of aborted fetuses. However, the ethicality of abortion should have nothing to do with the common sense of getting a vaccination. The fetuses that are used to make these vaccines are already dead for X, Y, or Z reason, and since fetuses certainly aren’t being aborted just for the purpose of vaccine creation, we might as well use the dead fetuses for something useful. Many argue that “abortion is murder,” but in terms of vaccinations, I think that society might as well make use of the already “murdered” to lessen the chance a disease has of murdering the living.

  2. Kendra Bradley says:

    This is a very short-sighted perspective. In allowing parents to refuse vaccinations like this, it puts others at risk, namely young children and the immune-compromised. The abortions performed for these vaccinations are not against the will of the mother; why is it their business? This is a question raised anytime abortion comes up, and one I haven’t heard more than an “abortion is murder” argument for. Whenever someone can come up with a better argument than an unborn child’s life weighing more than that of the mother, this may be more reasonable. Until then, the lives of the weak in the population should not be put on the line for an arbitrary “line” being drawn.

  3. Tija Johnson says:

    I completely understand sticking to what you believe in because I stand firm in things. However, risking the health of other children is not acceptable. (This may seem wrong but…) I feel that children who aren’t vaccinated should possibly attend another daycare or stay at home. You cant just go around injecting needles into babies but other children don’t need to get sick neither. Most policies state that if a child is sick and can possibly make other children sick then they must go home. That is the same in vaccination case. If they can possibly affect others then they shouldn’t be placed in a predicament where they can harm children.

  4. Kaelon McNeece says:

    Vaccinations concern the subject of domestic wellness protection. If vaccinations were only optional, so many catastrophic outbreaks of illnesses we’ve deemed preventable could break out across the nation. So if the nation takes it upon itself to keep its own citizens safe by preventing these illnesses, what’s the harm? It may be required for children in order to maintain the health of everyone else involved in the schooling system, but throwing the word “forced” into the mix makes vaccinations seem like the actions of a “big bad government” that requires all citizens to commit some horrible action that really isn’t just preventing thousands of unnecessary deaths.
    Regarding the religious opposition to vaccination, an article on states, “First, you need to realize that fear mongering about “fetal parts” in vaccines is, not surprisingly, a distortion of the real situation, which is that the human cell lines are used to make some vaccines. Specifically, the WI-38 cell line is a human diploid fibroblast cell line derived from a three month old fetus aborted therapeutically in 1962 in the US. Another cell line, MRC-5, was derived from lung fibroblasts of a 14 week old fetus in 1966 in the United Kingdom. These are currently the only fetal cell lines used to grow viruses for vaccines, with most other vaccines requiring cell lines from animal.” Even the vaccines that utilize animal cell lines are few and far between with those vaccinations being for Hepatitis A, Rubella, Chickenpox, and Shingles. The truth is, scientists are not butchering infants for our older children to survive school. The fetus deaths that led to the creation of the WI-38 and MRC-5 cell lines were both medical necessities and have been manipulated far beyond what they once were through multiple generations of cellular alterations.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think the “forced” vaccinations are fair; children capable of spreading these diseases should not be allowed to be around other children, risking their health. I believe taking this risk to the lives of children is more unethical than using the tissues of aborted fetuses to protect public health. Likewise, while the pro-life argument wants people to recognize the importance and meaning in these aborted babies, I find it ironic that they see harm in using the tissues of them for the good of others after the criminal abortion has been committed. I think the state should not allow parents to object to their children receiving vaccinations on this religious basis.

  6. Michelle L says:

    Since unvaccinated children aren’t allowed to attend public schools in Mississippi, in a way, vaccinations are “forced.” At the same time, I assume those who are most zealously against vaccination would be fine with that due to presumption that “anti-vaxxers” are also over-protective parents. Using the word “forced,” additionally, implied it’s some kind of breach against personal liberty beyond what’s acceptable for maintaining order. Is enforcing vaccination any more unethical than “forcing” people to not commit crime?
    Given the evidence at hand, I think vaccination is a good thing. A decrease in vaccination would not be a good thing. I have always understood vaccination to be a very important and necessary act for all healthy individuals. It protects others who can’t get vaccinated due to immune reasons, and not vaccinating has lead to a perceptible return of illnesses like measles. According to the article, Mississippi is one of only three states that disallows a religious exemption for vaccination. To me, that’s surprising given Mississippi’s reputation. Mississippi has a rather progressive on this issue at the moment in having most children vaccinated. I would not like to see a religious argument be used to further an anti-vaccination agenda in this state that could endanger others, though I am frankly clouded by a limited ability to understand religious arguments.

  7. Brianna Ladnier says:

    What’s unethical in this situation is not the “forcing” of vacinnations onto school children, but on parents’ willingness to risk the health of other children because they do not feel like following the rules. When your child is sick, it must go home. You cannot say “My child cannot go home! The Bible talks about having to have knowledge! If you send my child home, your disobeying my religion!” That’s ridiculous, and the same applies to not getting vaccinated. If you are extremely against it, you can home school your children.

    Also, on the note of the aborted fetus cells, I encourage people to question this. When we hear that aborted fetus cells are used in our vaccines, many immediately envision a baby is killed for every vaccine. However, this is extremelg far from the case.
    “As with most antivaccine tropes, there is a grain of truth distorted beyond recognition here. The virus stocks used to make some vaccines are grown in cell lines like the WI-38 cell line, which is a human diploid fibroblast cell line derived from a three month old fetus aborted therapeutically in 1962. Of course, there’s a huge difference between a cell line that was derived from a fetus 55 years ago and actual “fetal cells.” While it’s correct to say that WI-38 cells were derived from a fetus, they are many generations (replications) removed from the original cells from the original fetus. Even though that most anti-abortion of religions, the Catholic Church is not thrilled with vaccines made in WI-38 cells and urges scientists to develop vaccines that don’t use such cell lines, it recognizes the great good vaccines do and concludes that the extreme good of protecting children’s lives from deadly diseases far outweighs the distant evil that created the cell lines. I also note that, in the case of WI-38, the abortion was therapeutic; i.e., medically indicated. It was not elective.”

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