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Catholic Culture News

Agent Provocateurs for the Unborn

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 07, 2021

“This is my Body” are the hallowed words of Jesus at the Last Supper when He instituted the Blessed Eucharist—the New and Everlasting Covenant—and instructed His Apostles to “Do this in memory of me.” But the sacred declaration has an alternative meaning, as the late, great Notre Dame Law professor Dr. Charles Rice often observed.

Vision Book Cover Prints

The abortion lobby uses “This is MY body” to promote the right to terminate a pregnancy. The following composite scenario, using the sanitized language of NARAL, may help us understand the economic motivations.

  • Assisted by boyfriend and parents, a young woman carrying fetal material makes an appointment with Planned Parenthood to terminate her pregnancy. Planned Parenthood provides healthy tissue to researchers for a fee. So the kindly representative asks the girl to come back in two weeks when the tissue has developed to its optimal stage for such research.
  • The Planned Parenthood medical facilities are bright and antiseptic, and the doctor is well trained in his craft by a top-notch medical school. This procedure demands real medical competence. Fortunately for this collection process, most ob/gyn doctors routinely terminate fetuses as part of their technical training. The pharmaceutical research agency needs a success story for its stock IPO, and the upstart clinic needs fresh tissue sufficiently advanced in gestation. So the provider must remove the tissue with the utmost precision and professional diligence.
  • The providers must maintain the circulation of the fluids to sustain the fetal material before the organ harvest, so perhaps a C-section would be best. The procedure is a success. The doctors, nurses, attendants, and administrative staff carefully silence the noises emitted by the fetus. The specimens are perfectly healthy: useful for grafting onto small animals.
  • The delivery to the research clinic is as efficient as modern transportation allows, from the latest in cold storage technology to specialized Fed Ex handling. Invoices exchanged and bills paid. Business managers, accountants, and employees down to the maintenance crew receive their paychecks on time. Businesses deposit their quarterly IRS tax payments. Stockholders are pleased, and brokers receive pleasant commissions on the trades.
  • The medical community celebrates as the pharmaceutical research facility successfully develops medical treatments for dread diseases. The research enhances prospects for new therapies for degenerative diseases that affect the elderly. Those microscopic cells from the fetal tissue, taken from living and often breathing organisms, divide and multiply millions—maybe billions—of times. The cell lines all find a home in millions of people—injected into our arms or ingested by our bodies—keeping us healthy and extending our lives for a few years. Indeed an alarming number of the drugs developed by the pharmaceutical industry are at least tested on (if not grown on) fetal cell lines.

This is my body? No. This is our body!

All of this horror is possible, with our participation, because we carefully avoid a few truthful words and unpleasant realities: unborn baby, human being, lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, blood, abortion, infanticide, murder, human trafficking, dissection, human vivisection, and torture—and even a baby’s whimper. We sanitize these words with—well, you just heard how we can carefully avoid the unpleasantness. Even Catholic moral analysis falls short. The determination of “remote material cooperation” apparently absolves us of the chain of crimes, as many of us take the medications without protest.

The American bishops and the Vatican encourage us to take the COVID vaccines in charity and for the common good, as long as we somehow register our disapproval of the unholy means of production. In response, many Catholics have accepted an injection of vaccines that carry embryonic stem cell lines.* But others continue to resist. Along with the immorality of embryonic stem cell research, there are serious questions of possible long-term side effects such as sterility, suppressed immunity to other viruses, and heart damage.

How can Catholics express their disapproval?

Many years ago, a priest from the Northeastern USA received a significant monetary gift from a pro-abortion US Senator who self-identified as a Catholic. The priest could have accepted the donation for his school without sin, even if political interests motivated the politician. To the chagrin of the diocesan chancery, however, the priest returned the funds with interest. According to a mutual acquaintance, when he reminded the Senator of the incident years later, it inflamed the politician’s anger at the priest.

In the coming months, many Catholics and non-Catholics alike will be refusing vaccines on prophetic moral grounds. Is there a better way of expressing horrified disapproval of the immorality of human vivisection and using aborted remains for medical research and development?

For those who reply that it is pro-life to take the vaccine, this fearful ratio may help with perspective: So far, nearly 600,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. This number compares with approximately 850,000 unborn babies deliberately killed in the U.S. over the same period—and those deaths will continue unabated. The events over the past year prove that we live in desperate fear for our lives, and to ease that fear we will do almost anything the government commands. Unborn babies also suffer terrible pain in loneliness even when aborted in the early stages of development. Unable to speak for themselves, they need our voices.

Medical professionals require that we sign many documents to protect their practices. Perhaps we should return the favor and devise an affidavit for our medical providers attesting: “To the best of my knowledge, these medications and treatments are not derived from embryos or fetal tissue obtained after an abortion.” We may find ourselves in the weeds of distinguishing between fetal cell lines and testing. We will probably only succeed in further annoying the abortion medical-industrial complex, bringing retribution upon us. But we must explore ways to act as agent provocateurs for the unborn. Our job is to change hearts with God’s grace, beginning with our own. Any success is up to God.

We have a right to bodily integrity, and so do the unborn. Authorities and experts have no right to inject us with vaccines or other drugs that violate its sacred purpose. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) It’s not just my body. In Christ, it is our body.


* Note: This is not intended as a precise scientific statement. The scientific evidence for what is and what is not in the various vaccines has been something of a moving target. The vaccine manufacturers have generally incorporated cell lines propagated from illicitly-obtained fetal tissue from one or more aborted babies either in the testing of or as a growth medium for the vaccines. At least one vaccine manufacturer has released data on the percentage of fetal DNA molecules which may be found in its vaccine. We now know that closely-related procedures are used in the manufacture of a number of different products, including some cosmetics. But such detailed analysis of the composition of any of these products is completely irrelevant to the moral issue. It remains seriously evil to acquire and use fetal tissue from aborted babies for any purpose. It is even worse to establish a market for such tissue. To enter into a detailed analysis of what cells or molecules end up precisely where, while of technical interest, is morally beside the point, and will always be a moving target. The moral point made in this essay cannot be undermined by arguing that the fetal tissue’s precise role in the process has been factually misunderstood: Such tissue, and the cell lines derived from it, may not be utilized morally at all, anywhere.

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 08, 2021 12:40 PM ET USA

    In response to 1Jn416, and in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court, I consider medical insurance a tax. As such, if you want to live in this country, you have to pay it. The only legal alternatives are companies like Christian health shares. However, in my experience, these companies are poorly run and make it very tedious to recover money already spent at the doctor's office. If you want to fix medical insurance, fix the politicians. Regulate medicine to do no harm. Unborn babies are people.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Jun. 07, 2021 5:01 PM ET USA

    I continue to hold the vaccine is the wrong battle to fight. The mRNA ones have no continuing involvement with abortion, but I would avoid J&J since it does. But consider that almost every American reading this column has health insurance through an insurance company that actively pays for abortions NOW, every day, and paying our premiums cooperates with that. That is a MUCH bigger issue than fetal cell lines from long ago abortions.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 07, 2021 11:28 AM ET USA

    Very detailed. Fleshes out what some of us have been trying to say in 500 characters. Highly commendable analysis. Bravo.