https://cogforlife.org/fr-phil-wolfe/ The Morality of using Vaccines Derived from Fetal Tissue Cultures: A Few Considerations Fr. Phil Wolfe, FSSP Catholics troubled by the morality of using vaccines derived from fetal tissue cultures should be mindful of the ancient axiom: Bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu (Goodness arises from an integral cause, evil arises from any defect whatsoever). What does this axiom mean? It means that the moral goodness or evil of an act can be determined by a thoughtful assessment of the act itself, as well as its attending circumstances. A good act, attended by good circumstances, is said to have an integral cause, and thus can be safely performed by Catholics; but however admirable an act may be in other respects, if even one of the circumstances is gravely evil, the act cannot be recommended to Catholics. How, then, can a Catholic thoughtfully assess the morality of an act, such as these vaccinations? He must determine the goodness by assessing the morality of the object and the circumstances of the act. The first consideration is to assess the moral object of the act. What is the moral object of a vaccination? Let’s use a specific example to illustrate: an immunization against Measles, Mumps and Rubella using the MMR II vaccine. Since the moral object of any act is the exterior act as proposed by reason, in this case, the moral object of the act of immunizing a child with MMR II is to give him an inoculation with this vaccine so as to induce an immune response, so that he will be immune to measles, mumps and rubella. This, in itself, is a good moral object. The circumstances which surround the MMR II vaccination must now be considered. The circumstances are those things that “stand around” an act, and qualify it in some manner. There are 7 circumstances: who, what, where, by what aid, why, how and when. (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, De Malo,q. 2, a. 6.) If all the attending circumstances are good, or indifferent, then that act is good; that act arises from an integral cause. If one or more of the attending circumstances are evil, then there is a defect, and the act itself is evil. For this particular act, that of immunizing a child with MMR II, the circumstance which deserves close scrutiny is “by what aid.” “By what aid” refers to the instrumental cause, or agent of the act, in this case the MMR II vaccine, a product produced using fetal tissue, obtained from an aborted baby, as a culture medium. At this point a feeling of extreme unease might overcome the Catholic who is attempting to assess the morality of this procedure. He recognizes that the moral object of the act is good, to immunize a child against these diseases, and he recognizes that if all the attending circumstances were good, he could safely conclude that this act would be good. But now he reaches the uneasy notion that this vaccine is tainted in some fashion, since it was produced using fetal tissue. May he then use it, since he is not directly approving of the abortion which made production of this vaccine possible? He wonders, does this circumstance “by what aid” pertain here? Can he disclaim the origin of this vaccine, as some have argued, on the basis that his use would only be a remote material cooperation with the intrinsic evil of the direct abortion and use of the aborted baby’s tissue? In order to answer these questions, he should pay thoughtful attention to the rules for restitution for a possessor in bad faith, which is to say, that he should study the “rules for returning things that he knows don’t belong to him.” Now, in order that a Catholic get a reasonably solid grasp on the rules for restitution for a possessor in bad faith, a few illustrations will first be offered; and then the rules will be applied to the situation at hand. Imagine a man steals his neighbor’s lawnmower. He knows full well that he has no right to this thing. This man is in bad faith. So possession in bad faith means that the man who has the goods in bad faith knows full well that they are not rightfully his. Now, suppose that the thief sells this lawnmower to another man for a very good price, and tells him that the price is so cheap because the lawnmower is stolen. Is the man who just bought this lawnmower, knowing full well it was stolen in good faith? No, he’s also an example of possession in bad faith. Now, supposing, in either of these cases, the man who has unjust possession of this lawnmower repents: what does he have to do? There’s one basic rule: A man in bad faith has to make restitution for ALL the foreseeable damage caused to the lawful owner. It’s easy to understand; he’s responsible for the damage, so he has to fix it. Now what does that mean, in these cases? 1) He has to return the thing itself, if it still exists: in this case, a stolen lawnmower. 2) If it no longer exists, he has to restore the equivalent value. So, even if he doesn’t have the lawnmower anymore, he still owes the poor man he stole it from either the equivalent value in money or an equivalent lawnmower. Now, suppose a little more complicated situation: Suppose that the original owner of the lawnmower used it for business. And now he is sitting around without his equipment, unable to work, since his mower was stolen. And suppose, again, that the thief repents. What does the thief have to do for restitution? 1) The thief still has to return the thing itself, if it still exists: in this case, a stolen lawnmower. 2) If it no longer exists, he has to restore the equivalent value. Now, he has another responsibility, since a man in bad faith has to make good for all the foreseeable damage caused to the lawful owner. And that is the third point: 3) He has to restore the profit which the owner would have made, or reimburse him for the loss he suffered, in this case, the money lost from being unable to work has to be restored to the owner. Now suppose a even more complicated situation: suppose the thief put some work into the lawnmower; suppose that he did 3 things: he painted it, not because it needed paint but to make sure he didn’t get caught with a stolen lawnmower. Then, he had it tuned up since it was running a little rough, and this tune-up was definitely very useful. Then, since the blade was so dinged up it hardly cut, he put a new blade on the mower. And after putting all this into this stolen lawnmower, he repented. What does he have to do now? 1) The thief still has to return the thing itself, if it still exists: the stolen lawnmower. 2) If it no longer exists, he has to restore the equivalent value. 3) He still has to restore the profit which the owner would have made, or reimburse him for the loss he suffered, in this case, the money lost from being unable to work has to be restored to the owner. 4) But this time, he can deduct any useful or necessary expenses , a useful expense improves the item; a necessary expense preserves it. For example, the tune-up was a useful expense; the new blade was a necessary expense. But the paint wasn’t either useful or necessary but only done for the sake of camouflage, so he can’t deduct that expense. Now, suppose an entirely different situation: Imagine a rustler who steals about 20 head of cows., and then, 2 years later, he repents. What is he responsible for? 1) A thief has to return the thing itself, if it still exists: in this case, 20 head of cows, not bulls, not steers. 2) If it no longer exists, he has to restore the equivalent value. So, if he sold some of the cows, he has to replace that same number. 3) He has to restore the profit which the owner would have made, or reimburse him for the loss he suffered, in this case, the money lost from not having those two years of a calf-crop. 4) He can deduct any useful or necessary expenses, a useful expense improves the item; a necessary expense preserves it. For example, veterinary bills and pasturage.