SCOTUS declined Thursday to take up a challenge to New York's vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas repeated claims that all vaccines were developed using cells of "aborted children."
Not all COVD-19 vaccines were developed using fetal cell lines.
Justice Clarence Thomas repeated a false claim on Thursday that "all available COVID-19 vaccines" were developed using cell lines from "aborted children."
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 vote to leave New York's vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in place after petitioners challenged the mandate over its lack of a religious exemption.
In his dissenting opinion, Thomas wrote that the petitioners — which included 16 healthcare workers from the state — "object on religious grounds to all available COVID-19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children," citing the petitioners' complaint in his dissent.
While it is true that fetal cell lines were crucial for developing and testing the efficacy of some of the vaccines, not all of them required the use of those cells throughout the development.
In the widely available Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, for example, "abortion-derived cells" were not used in the development or production stages of the two mRNA vaccines, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. Some laboratory tests of those vaccines, though not all, did use those cells.
"For those patients who refuse a vaccine that is developed in a cell line that was derived from an abortion, alternatives exist: For instance, mRNA vaccines as a class are not designed, developed or produced in fetal cell lines," according to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, which cites the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
The claim that vaccines required the use of "aborted children" also falsely suggests that cells from recent abortions in late-stage pregnancies were used to create the vaccines or that the vaccines themselves contain aborted fetal cells.
In reality, the cell lines were grown in a laboratory by extracting cells from two elective abortions performed several decades ago, according to a handout guide from the North Dakota Department of Health addressing the subject of vaccines and fetal cell lines. Specifically, the cells came from a kidney cell line isolated from a fetus in 1973 and a retinal cell line from an aborted fetus in 1985.
Elective means that the abortion was voluntary and not done for the sole purpose of vaccine development.
These cell lines have been critical in the research and development of other more common forms of treatment, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and cold medication.
"Any vaccine that relies on these historic cell lines will not require nor solicit new abortions," according to the handout by the North Dakota Department of Health. "While fetal cell lines may be used to develop or manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccines themselves do not contain any aborted fetal cells."
In its guide, the North Dakota Department of Health wrote that the Charlotte Lozier Institute found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines "ethically uncontroversial." It also quotes the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, saying that "one may receive any of the clinically recommended vaccines in good conscience."
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his dissenting opinion.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the false claim made in Justice Thomas' dissenting opinion.
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