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  The following cell lines were obtained from babies aborted specifically for vaccine research and development


Product Name (Vaccine)


Fetal Cell Line


Varivax, Varilrix

Merck, GSK

WI-38, MRC-5

Hepatitis A


Vaqta, Havrix

Avaxim, Epaxal

Merck, GSK

Sanofi, Berna



Hepatitis A & B

Hepatitis A & Typhoid








MMR, Priorix

Merck, GSK

RA273, WI-38


MR Vax




RA273, WI-38

RA273, MRC-5


Biavax II


RA273, WI-38


Meruvax II


RA273, WI-38

MMR + Chickenpox



RA273, WI-38, MRC-5



DT Polio Adsorb.

Sanofi Pasteur


Polio Combination

(DTaP + polio+ HiB or Hep-B)

Pentacel, Infanrix Hexa, Quadracel

Sanofi Pasteur




Sanofi Pasteur


Rheumatoid Arthritis



WI-26 VA4



Eli Lilly





WI-38, MRC-5

New: Smallpox

Acambis 1000



In Development Ebola




In Development Flu,

Avian Flu



Vaxin, Sanofi



In Development: HIV




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Perhaps one if the most highly misunderstood notions among moral theologians and ethicists is that the abortions involved were not done with the intention of creating vaccines.  In fact, in response to President Bush’s decision on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the USCCB highlights this point as follows:

 “In the present case, human lives were taken in order to provide cells for research and, in some cases, precisely to qualify for federal grants; in the case of vaccines, tissues were taken following abortions performed for unrelated reasons.”

 While one might agree that the mothers who had the abortions did not do so because they wanted to help create a vaccine specifically, then one must also realize that the parents of those embryos created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) did not do so with the intention of creating a future medical product either.   The fact of the matter is that in ascertaining moral culpability, it is not just the mother’s intentions that must be considered. There are three parties involved: the mother, the abortionist and the researcher, all of whom share equally in an intrinsically evil act. We know it is the intention of scientists to destroy embryos for research purposes.  And likewise, it was the full intention of both the attending abortionist and the researcher present at the foot of the abortion table to destroy those babies specifically to create vaccines.  This document will prove this intent with undisputable facts recorded by those who conducted and reported on the research.  Not only are all equally guilty of assisting in premeditated homicide, but it may very well have been the action of the attending researcher who actually brought about the final demise of the babies. In fact, if the mother was distraught and coerced, one could easily conclude she might very well have been a victim herself. 

 The evidence supporting the direct link between the abortions and the production of ensuing vaccines are unmistakable. But to fully appreciate the level of formal material cooperation involved, it is important to understand the scientific facts regarding tissue and cell viability.  In aborted fetal tissue research as in any type of human tissue or organ transplant or research, it is essential that the samples collected are still living.  Dead tissue is worthless.   It is not possible to simply perform an abortion and then after the fact, decide one wants to use the discarded fetus for cell research. Nor is it desirable to do so, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s bioethics guidelines, which state that after the abortion, “It is not quite the appropriate time, given the emotional stress that this procedure entails.   Based on this premise, consent elicited at this time may be regarded as invalid.”

 And from a clinical standpoint, according to Dr. C. Ward Kischer, PhD one of the leading authorities in the nation on human embryology, the abortion must be pre-arranged in order to have researchers available to immediately preserve the tissue. 

 “In order to sustain 95% of the cells, the live tissue would need to be preserved within 5 minutes of the abortion”, stated Dr. Kischer. “Within an hour the cells would continue to deteriorate, rendering the specimens useless.”

In a more easily recognizable situation, it is no different than prearranging the donation of one’s organs after death.  Steps must be taken immediately to safeguard the life of the tissue or organs.

 To fully understand the magnitude of intention by not only the abortionist and the researcher, but the pharmaceutical industry as well, one needs to look at the history of how these cell lines were obtained, by whom they were obtained and who ultimately profited.

 The abortions

In 1961 when Leonard Hayflick, who was employed by the Wistar Institute, the research facility of the University of Pennsylvania, recorded the work he had been conducting with aborted fetal cell lines, WI-1 through WI-25 (Wistar Institute, fetal samples numbered 1-25). The cell strains were derived from the lung, skin, muscle, kidney, heart, thyroid, thymus and liver of 21 separate, elective abortions.     In fact, the entire research conducted and reported on by Hayflick was done solely for the development of viral vaccine cultivation:

 “The isolation and characterization of human diploid cell strains from fetal tissue make this type of cell available as a substrate for the production of live virus vaccines.  Other than the economic advantages, such strains in contrast to heteropoloid cell lines exhibit those characteristics usually reserved for normal or primary cells and therefore make the consideration of their use in the production of human virus vaccines a distinct possibility.”

 By 1961, success had not yet been achieved but Hayflick concluded fetal cell lines looked promising for vaccine production.  The existing cell lines had been kept alive in serial cultivation, but were near the finite lifespan of sub cultivations. More fetal tissue would be needed.  In concluding his research thesis, Hayflick credits grateful acknowledgement to three key players in what would soon become the first commercial cell substrate to be used in our present day vaccines:

         Dr. Sven Gard of the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm Sweden who supplied the fetuses

         Dr Stanley Plotkin, who is credited for developing the rubella vaccine for Wistar Institute

         Dr. Anthony Girardi of the Merck Research Institute, who assisted in the research and as the sole manufacturer of the only rubella vaccine available in the US, Merck had a vested interest in the results.

 In 1964 Hayflick would again report on his findings with the newest aborted fetal cell line, WI-38.  A bit of history is in order on this abortion, whose tissue would be collected from the lungs of a female baby at 3 months gestation The reporting by Stanley Plotkin on the abortion when he was asked about the inherent dangers of using human cell lines in vaccine production due to the possibility of viral agents and human genetic material passed over into the recipient of the vaccine is as follows:

 “This fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose.  Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children. There were no familial diseases in the history of either parent, and no history of cancer specifically in the families.”

wpe3.jpg (16617 bytes) It is important to understand that whether the mother aborted her child for this reason or not is really inconsequential to this discussion, since as we have noted, she is only one of three players involved in an evil act.  It was most certainly the intention of the abortionist and researchers to secure additional fetal tissue needed for vaccine cultivation and Dr. Sven Gard accomplished that. And as we read above, the fetus was actually chosen for this specific purpose.  For the record, it should be noted that Dr. Gard already had intimate ties to the Wistar Institute having taken his sabbatical there in 1959, the exact time of Hayflick’s initial research on the first 19 aborted fetal cell lines. It is documented that Gard arranged for a supply of the aborted fetuses on which Hayflick’s work was to be based, as recorded by Erling Norrby, the intern working under Sven Gard at Lederle Labs:. 

 "One of my duties as a young student in the laboratory in Stockholm was to dissect human fetuses from legal abortions and send organs to the Wistar Institute. Such material was the source of many important studies of cell lines at the Institute, such as Leonard Hayflick's study of WI-38 cells... When we collected the organs, this was done immediately after the legal abortion.  We were on duty to immediately perform the sampling and to arrange for an as rapid transport as possible over the Atlantic Ocean.  The fetal material arrived by car from the nearby hospital to our laboratory enwrapped in a green surgical cloth. Maximal sterility was critical to allow an outgrowth of fetal cells without any contamination after the transport."

 And why would Sven Gard of Sweden be interested in assisting Wistar in the United States?  His good friend, Dr. Hilary Koprowski, of Lederle Labs in Sweden was appointed the new director of Wistar in 1957, and wanted to test his OPV (oral polio vaccine) on human tissue. It seemed harmless enough.   Hayflick initially obliged by creating his own fetal cell line, taken from the amniotic sac of his own daughter’s birth. But when WISH (Wistar Institute Susan Hayflick) failed to produce the desired results, more fetal sources were needed. And so began the voracious acquisition of aborted fetuses from Sweden that would become known as WI-1 through WI-38. 

 And while WI-38 was being prepared for vaccine production, the rubella epidemic of 1964 that same year would provide the excuse to put the cell line to commercial use. While rubella is considered a harmless childhood disease, it can be dangerous for women who contract the disease in their first trimester of pregnancy.   The New England Journal of Medicine describes the disease as follows:

 “In children and adults, rubella is usually mild and may even go unnoticed.  Children generally have few symptoms, but adults may experience fever, headache, malaise, and a runny nose before the rash appears. A person can transmit the disease from 1 week before the onset of the rash, until 1-2 weeks after the rash disappears. Lifelong immunity to the disease follows infection.”

 However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 20%-25% of women who contract rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy could pass on Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) to their unborn child.  CRS can cause birth defects including deafness, cataracts, heart defects, mental retardation, and liver and spleen damage.  Preying on this fear during the 1964 epidemic, some doctors in Pennsylvania began advising pregnant women who contracted the disease to abort their child. In a controlled study group, the Wistar Institute worked directly with the abortionists to collect and dissect the fetuses.  It was from the 27th fetus that researchers extracted the live virus in the kidney of the baby to be used in the rubella vaccine.

 “Explant cultures were made of the dissected organs of a particular fetus aborted because of rubella, the 27th in our series [emphasis added] of fetuses aborted.  This fetus was from a 25-year-old mother exposed to rubella 8 days after her last menstrual period. 16 days later she developed rubella. The fetus was surgically aborted 17 days after maternal illness and dissected immediately. Explants from several organs were cultured and successful cell growth was achieved from lung, skin, and kidney. It was then grown on WI-38. The new vaccine was tested on orphans in Philadelphia.”

 The rubella virus clinically named RA273 (R=Rubella, A=Abortus, 27=27th fetus, 3=3rd tissue explant) was then cultivated on the WI-38 aborted fetal cell line. A later research paper by Stanley Plotkin would reveal that 40 more babies were aborted after RA273 was successfully isolated, with virus strains taken from 34 of them.  This means a total of over 80 separate, elective abortions recorded were involved in the research and final production of the present day rubella vaccine: 21 from the original WI-1 through WI-26 fetal cell lines that failed, plus WI-38 itself, plus 67 from the attempts to isolate the rubella virus. As one can clearly see Wistar not only directly managed the controlled abortions used to collect the rubella virus, but they also provided the cell substrate for cultivating it from the fetuses obtained by Sven Gard. 

 In the 1970’s a second aborted fetal cell line would be introduced in Great Britain by the Medical Research Council, named MRC-5.   The cell line is derived from the lung tissue of a 14-week gestation male aborted for “psychiatric reasons”.  Two interesting points will be made here. The first, in an interview with Father Anthony Cornforth, of the UK, February, 2003:  He related the story of how laws in England in the 1960’s - 1970’s timeframe were supposedly designed to limit the number of abortions, allowing only for “health of the mother”, which included mental health. He stated that the law was more of a “wink and a nod” and that, “psychiatric reasons were commonly noted on the records whenever no medical evidence of health problems could be legally accounted for, and certainly when there were other more sinister motives.”  

 The second point of interest comes from Leonard Hayflick himself, who boasted,I have not only worked with WI-38 but I am the developer of that strain.  MRC-5 is a copycat strain made by the Brits almost ten years after I showed them how.”  

 Since neither the WI-38 nor the MRC-5 abortions were done in the United States, where at least one could speculate that even minimal informed consent laws might have prevented mischief, there is good reason to question the validity of the recorded reasons for the abortions. 

 There is certainly no way of knowing whether the mothers volunteered their babies as research projects or not, but one could muse that especially in the case of MRC-5, even if the mother really had psychiatric problems, she could have been easily coerced. It may be speculation, but it deserves consideration in light of the absolute truth the abortions had been pre-arranged to have researchers present whose intention was extracting the tissue for vaccine production.  That fact is undeniable.


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  • Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived From Aborted Human Foetuses, Medicina e Morale, Centro de Bioethica della Universita Cattolica, June 9, 2005

    The NCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, Vol. 12, No. 4 Aug-Sept 2001, The Human Embryo as Research Commodity Special Edition ; Univ of Pennsylvania website, Bioethics

    Dr. C. Ward Kischer, Embryologist and Emeritus Professor of Anatomy; Specialist in Human Embryology,
    University of Arizona College of Medicine (Tucson, Arizona) Personal interview 7-02, ALL Conference

    L. Hayflick and P.S.Moorhead, The Serial Cultivation of Human Diploid Cell Strains, Experimental Cell Research, 1961, 25, pg 591

  • L. Hayflick and P.S.Moorhead, The Serial Cultivation of Human Diploid Cell Strains, Experimental Cell Research, 1961, 25, pg 618

  • L. Hayflick, The Limited In Vitro Lifetime of Human Diploid Cell Strains, Experimental Cell Research, 37, 611-636, 1965

  • G. Sven, S. Plotkin, K. McCarthy, Gamma Globulin Prophylaxis; Inactivated Rubella Virus; Production and Biological Control of Live Attenuated Rubella Virus Vaccines; Amer J Dis Child Vol 118 Aug 1969

  • Norrby, Erling "Listen to the Music: The Life of Hilary Koprowski (review)", Perspectives in Biology and Medicine - Volume 44, Number 2, Spring 2001, pp. 304-306; and personal email, from Dr Norrby to Dr Rene Leiva, Human Diploid Cell Strains, A Brief History of their Origin, 2006

  • Origin of HIV and Emerging Persistent Viruses, Round Table Conference, The Accademia Nazzionale dei Lincei, Edward Hooper, ISBN 88-218-0885-8

  • New England Journal of Medicine; Rubella in Children, Pediatrics, 1965, 1976, 1980 American Journal Diseases of Children, Vol. 110, Oct. 1965

  • Centers for Disease Control, National Immunization Program,

  • American Journal Diseases of Children; Virus Production and Biological Control of Live Attenuated Rubella Virus Vaccines, Vol. 118 Aug 1969; Attenuation Of RA273 Rubella Virus; Studies of Immunization With Living Rubella Virus; Arch J Dis Child vol 110 Oct 1965

    T.H. Chang et al, Chromosome Studies of Human Cells Infected in Utero and In Vitro with Rubella Virus, "Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 122.1 (May 1966), pg 237-238

  • Jacobs, Nature 277:168 (1970), Characteristics of a human diploid cell designated MRC-5.

  • Personal email from Leonard Hayflick to CoG for Life, Illinois Chapter, From: [] Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 11:05 AM

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All investigative research conducted by and found at