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Aborted fetal cell lines in vaccinations

Many thanks to all moderators and readers for their consideration of this difficult topic.

A table called “Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary | Excipients Included in U.S. Vaccines, by Vaccine” on the official website of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists as ingredients cell lines cultured from aborted fetal cells. Strains WI-38 and MRC-5 (just for the sake of giving two examples) are some of the more commonly-listed aborted fetal cell lines on that particular ingredients list. At the very bottom of the document, anyone can read “March 2018,” presumably meaning that the information was current/up-to-date about five months ago.

Here is the URL for readers to use to locate the CDC webpage for that table:

Since it is not contested that WI-38 and MRC-5 were in fact aborted fetal cell lines, the primary source at the above URL proves that aborted fetal cell lines were used and strongly implies that the information was up-to-date in March 2018.

So, my question for the moderators is: have vaccines that contained aborted fetal cell lines been considered in Judaism to be non-kosher/illegal? Also, what should be done to establish righteous court systems (Noahide Law #7) that will properly address this problem?

Kosher status is surely not an irrelevant subject, because many Noahides have been considering conversion to Judaism!

Let me be very clear: I am not saying that abortions must be performed continuously in order to supply pharmaceutical companies with the human tissue we are discussing – it would seem that many of these cell lines have been growing/reproducing for many decades in laboratory conditions after having been harvested from aborted fetuses a long time ago.

Thank you.
Thanks for your question. I am answering it in this forum on Torah laws for Gentiles specifically because it questions the use in vaccines of two cell strains that were started with cells from aborted fetuses.

On the other hand, questions about risks vs. benefits of government-certified medications are to be answered based on scientific and statistical research, and there is a great amount of publicly accessible information available to anyone who wants to search that out and make their own decisions based on the facts and consultations with their doctors. So that is not going to be addressed in this forum.

First, we need to explain the meaning of cell strains WI-38 and MRC-5 that are cell lines that were originally cultured from aborted fetal cells. Cells multiply by dividing. (I know that sounds odd, but this is in the terminology of biology, not mathematical operations.) In other words, 1 cell divides, and now you have 2 cells. Each of those divides, and now you have 4 cells, then 8 cells, etc. The life of a cell is limited, so after many "generations" of cell division, you have billions of cells, and the original cell and a number of its closest generations have all died off and are no longer present.
The cell strain WI-38 was started in the 1960's from tissue collected from one aborted fetus:
The cell strain MRC-5 was started in 1966 from tissue collected from one other aborted fetus:

These two human cells strains are used to grow the damaged or weakend virus that provides the medically-needed vaccination effect in the body of the human being who is vaccinated with it, so his body will become immune to the actual virus itself.

Clearly, with the WI-38 and MRC-5 cells in the vaccines in the table you referenced, there is no issue of any more abortions being performed to supply those cells, and they are not in the category of food, neither as meat or anything else. And the vaccines themselves are not in the category of food, nor are they themselves introduced into the body in the form of food, nor in the manner of normal eating.

From "The Divine Code," 3rd Edition, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, here are the general Torah laws for Gentiles in regard to ingredients in medications that might be forbidden to eat in a normal fashion as regular foods. I have inserted some text in brackets for more clarification:

Part IV, topic 6:3 - "Torah prohibitions [for Jews and Gentiles] against eating [a substance] [only] involve eating a forbidden food in its ordinary manner and form. If meat [from a non-kosher source] has been processed and changed to the extent that it is no longer considered a "food," then there is no prohibition, because it is no longer related to a normal way of "eating" [and the same leniency applies if it is introduced into the person's body in some way other than a normal manner of eating]. Therefore, if a piece of eiver min ha'chai meat ["meat taken from a living animal"] has been changed to the extent that is no longer in the category of human food - for example, if it has been dried and made into a powder that itself would not be eaten in the manner of food - the prohibition is removed.[144]

Footnote [144]: It appears that even if one used this powder to make normal food, it is permitted, as the original form is nullified.
*Thus the prohibition against eating meat that was severed from a living animal does not apply to [medicines,] most vitamins or nutritional supplements.

Part IV, topic 6:3 - "Meat from a human (whether separated while the person was alive or after the person's death) was never permitted to be eaten. Therefore, it is not permitted to eat from a limb, flesh or skin that was removed from a living human.
A Gentile is not forbidden to eat human blood that left the body, even while the person it came from is alive. However, it is forbidden to injure a person, so there is justification to forbid [the eating of] human blood, since permitting it may lead one to cause human injury.
It is allowed to benefit from part of a Gentile corpse [in other ways] if there is a definite need - for example, for medical training or research, or organ transplants."

As a separate issue, abortion is forbidden in the Torah laws for Jews and Gentiles, except in very limited circumstances that involve saving the life of the mother. See Part V, topics 1:10-14. Performing human abortions just for the sake of harvesting parts or cells from the fetuses is definitely forbidden, just as it is forbidden to euthanize or otherwise murder a person just for the sake of harvesting organs.

Back to the question about whether non-kosher ingredients in vaccines make them forbidden within Torah law: here is an Orthodox Rabbinical response that explains the permissibility of vaccines, which is posted on -

Quote: Question:
News reports say that Israel is considering giving smallpox vaccinations to all of its citizens. How can they do this when the smallpox vaccination contains rat blood, monkey brains, and human fetal tissue? Don’t they know that these things are Treif [non-kosher for Jews]?

While we have not heard about a smallpox vaccine with rat blood in it, the vaccine does contain monkey kidney cells and human fetal tissue as stabilizers. These are both non-kosher [as foods]. However, the smallpox vaccine is not taken orally. Rather it is an inoculation. There is no prohibition to use these specific non-kosher substances, so long as they are not eaten.

... Similarly, a [Jewish] diabetic can use insulin, even though it contains substances derived from pigs, since it is injected and not taken orally.

There is no prohibition in using medicines which contain forbidden ingredients if they are administered by injection, suppository, enema, medicated bandage, and the like, since they are not eaten.

However, if [a] medicated bandage contained milk and meat, then it would be prohibited [for Jews], even if it is not administered orally, because substances containing milk and meat together are not only forbidden to be eaten [by Jews], but a [Jewish] person is not to receive any enjoyment [i.e. benefit] from them whatsoever. For instance, one [a Jew] is not allowed to eat the flesh of a pig, but a Jew could make a football from its skin. However, a football made by compacting meat and milk would be prohibited [for a Jew to use].

Medicines containing ingredients that are prohibited to be eaten, that must be taken orally, should preferably be replaced with medicines comprised of permitted ingredients, as long as they are equally effective.

Of course, if a person's life depends on receiving an oral medicine that contains non-kosher ingredients, he is certainly allowed to have it. Even if there is no danger to a person's life, and a non-kosher medicine is prescribed, there are a few instances where its usage would be allowed. For instance, if the medicine has no nutritional value and is not considered fit for human consumption, nor for that of a dog [which is the criteria for determining of it's in the category of "food"], then it is allowed. Medicines in capsules or medicines which have a bitter taste are examples. Even if an otherwise bitter medicine is coated with sugar, this does not transform it into food and most halachic authorities consider these medicines unfit for a dog. Also, if the forbidden ingredients were altered chemically, or if they have completely dried out, then the medicine is permitted, even if the patient's life in not in danger[5].

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