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Compulsory Vaccinations Threaten Religious Freedom

Mathew D. Staver

Most people associate vaccinations with the eradication of disease. Vaccinations have been a part of American life for decades. However, many people object to mandatory vaccinations for religious reasons. Oftentimes, these individuals are told that they have no choice and must receive the vaccinations.

You may be surprised to learn that some vaccinations are derived from aborted fetal tissue. Vaccines for chicken pox, Hepatitis-A and Rubella were produced solely from aborted fetal tissue. Even most physicians who oppose abortion do not realize that these three vaccines are made from aborted fetal tissue. Recently, the wife of one of our Liberty Counsel attorneys confronted her family doctor who wanted to inject her son with the chicken pox vaccine. When she told her doctor, who is Catholic, that the chicken pox vaccine contains aborted fetal tissue, he was surprised. The doctor was even more surprised when he skimmed through his medical book and found out she was right. He then proclaimed that he was faced with a dilemma which he must now confront.

In St. Louis County, Missouri, a county law required food handlers to obtain the Hepatitis-A vaccine for employment. Several prominent Catholic newspapers published articles on the morality of using the vaccine, and pointed out that the source of the vaccine was derived from abortion. After the information became public, more and more physicians and parents have become deeply troubled by the ethical issues involved in the Hepatitis-A vaccine.

During the Rubella epidemic of 1964, some doctors advised pregnant women who were exposed to the disease to abort their children. The resulting virus strain became known in the science world as RA/27/3. R stands for Rubella, A stands for Abortus, 27 stands for the 27th fetus tested, and 3 stands for the 3rd tissue explant. In other words, there were 26 abortions prior to finding the right "species" with the active virus. The Rubella vaccine was then cultivated from the 27th aborted baby on the lung tissue of yet another aborted infant, WI-38. WI-38 (Wistar Institute 38) was taken from the lung tissue of an aborted baby at 3 months gestation in the 1960s. A second human cell line known as MRC-5 was derived from a male at 14 weeks gestation in the 1970s. These two aborted cell lines have been used to provide an ongoing source for many widely-used vaccines, including Hepatitis-A and chicken pox.

The chicken pox vaccine is known as Varivax. This vaccine was developed with the use of aborted fetuses. It uses both the human cell lines, known as WI-38 and MRC-5. The chicken pox vaccine also contains MSG (monosodium glutamate). According to the Food and Drug Administration, MSG is not advised for use in infants, children, or pregnant women or children of child-bearing age, and people with affective (mental/emotional) disorders. Dr. A. Lavin of the Department of Pediatrics at St. Luke's Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, strongly opposes the chicken pox vaccine.

Studies show that up to 3% of chicken pox vaccine recipients actually contract chicken pox from the vaccine, and some chicken pox cases may be contracted from recently vaccinated children. Some studies suggest that chicken pox in a vaccinated child may be milder than in an unvaccinated child. However, some experts also believe that this may be due to the vaccine suppressing the illness, which can actually signal a more serious underlying chronic condition. "Atypical measles" is a disease that occurs only in people previously vaccinated for measles, and it is far more serious than regular measles. It is yet unknown if "atypical chicken pox" cases will appear as a result of the use of Varivax.

The FDA has stated that there are fewer than 10% of serious adverse reactions and deaths following vaccines. The federal government actually pays families of vaccine-killed or disabled children nearly $100 million dollars each year, and has done so since 1986 through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

There are other vaccines that are derived from aborted fetuses for which there are alternatives. For example, an alternative to the Polio vaccine is a vaccine known by the name IPOL, which is not derived from aborted tissue. The alternative for Mumps is Mumpsvax, for rabies is RabAvert and for measles is Attenuvax. The vaccines under these names are produced either from monkey kidney cells or chicken embryos. There are also vaccine alternatives available in the United Kingdom, but which are not available in the United States because they are not FDA approved. The Rubella vaccine available in the United Kingdom known as Takahashi Strain and the Hepatitis-A vaccine with the brand name of Aimmugen are derived from rabbit and monkey kidney tissue respectively. However, these are not available in the United States.

In addition to the problem of some vaccines derived from aborted tissue, there is a larger problem with mandatory vaccines. Many people have a sincerely-held religious belief regarding vaccines in general. These individuals believe that God created the human body as a temple, and that the body should not be destroyed by injecting a virus into the body. Take for example Joseph and Heyde Rotella and Maja Leibovitz in New York City. Both families have a sincerely-held religious belief against vaccinations. At the time, the Rotellas had a seventh-grade daughter and Ms. Leibovitz had a second-grade daughter. The school system required that these children receive a mandatory Hepatitis-B vaccination. Hepatitis-B can only be transmitted in one of three ways. Either you are born to a mother with Hepatitis-B, or you contract it by drug use through the sharing of needles, or you contract it through sexual contact. Injecting their children with Hepatitis-B is like the state forcing the parents to give their children clean needles or condoms.

In both cases, the children were expelled from school, and in one case, Child Protective Services was called to the scene because the child was not in school. After several weeks of expulsion and threats of removing the children, Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit. A court order allowed the children back in school and prohibited the school from overriding the parents' religious belief.

Liberty Counsel has also filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Arkansas. There the state requires mandatory vaccinations. Our clients have sincerely-held religious beliefs opposing these mandatory vaccinations, including the chicken pox vaccination. One of our clients has actually received a letter from the Vatican stating that the Church opposes abortion and it would be a sin for the parent to allow her child to be injected with aborted fetal tissue. Despite the strong evidence of a religious belief which opposes the chicken pox vaccination, the state of Arkansas insists that the parent vaccinate her child. Our federal lawsuit challenges the state's law on religious freedom grounds.

Vaccinations are becoming a wave of the future. Large pharmaceutical companies are lobbying state legislators to require mandatory vaccinations of all school-aged children. Some people have sincerely-held religious beliefs against vaccines in general, while others have objections to certain vaccines because of their aborted fetal contents. Either way, the state cannot steamroll a person's religious belief. In many cases, the government cannot even legitimately argue a compelling reason for the vaccines. Chicken pox is not life-threatening, and Hepatitis-B is primarily contracted through drug use and sexual contact. Moreover, Hepatitis-B, according to the Center for Disease Control, has several serious side effects, including Multiple Sclerosis.

Next time you are confronted with mandatory vaccines, take a moment to reexamine your religious beliefs and become educated about the contents, the purpose, and the risk of vaccinations.

U.S. Vaccines Derived From Abortion


Vaccine Name


Cell line (Fetal)





Measles, Mumps, Rubella


Rubella only



Biavax II


Meruvax II


Merck & Company











Merck & Company




Chicken pox


Merck & Company

WI-38 and MRC-5



U.S. Vaccine Alternatives

No alternatives for Chickenpox, Rubella or Hepatitis-A in U.S.


Vaccine Name


Cell line





Monkey kidney cells





Merck & Company

Chick embryo





Chiron Therapeutics

Chick embryo





Merck & Company

Chick embryo



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved