What do you do when you want conservative, Catholic parents to stop vaccinating their kids? You tell them the vaccines are made out of “aborted fetal tissue.”
The Michigan state legislature is considering a new Republican-backed bill, SB 1055, which would require healthcare officials to ask for informed consent before giving vaccines with “aborted fetal tissue,” a.k.a. cells of legally aborted fetuses from the 1960s. These cells were not acquired for the purpose of making these vaccines and are multiplied over and over again. No new cells have been extracted ever since.
Vaccines with such cells include those against diseases known to be highly contagious, like measles, chicken pox and hepatitis.
According to Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, these kinds of vaccines contain very, very little fragments of human fetal tissue.
“There are perhaps nanograms of DNA fragments still found in the vaccine, perhaps billionths of a gram,” Dr. Offit told ABC News. ”You would find as much if you analyzed the fruits and vegetables you eat.”
Even religious organizations, most of which oppose abortion, have greenlit such vaccines.
“One cannot accurately say that the vaccines contain any of the cells from the original abortion,” a statement reads on the California Catholic Conference website.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center also believes there are “no proper grounds for refusing immunization against dangerous contagious disease, for example, rubella, especially in light of the concern that we should all have for the health of our children, public health, and the common good.”
So are parents still susceptible to this kind of fearmongering? Yep!
Michigan is already one of the 18 states that allow non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, which is increasing the risk of outbreaks, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine. It ranks 43rd lowest for immunization rate in children 19 to 35 months old and the number of kids opting out of shots has only been increasing since 2015.
The people backing the Michigan bill are extreme Republicans like Senator Patrick Colbeck, who previously sponsored legislation to make it easier for parents to have their children opt out of immunization. (Colbeck was in the news this week for pushing a conservative assault on Michigan’s school curriculum.)
Dr. David Gorski, a science writer and vocal critic of the bill, wrote on his blog that he’s “not surprised” that Colbeck sponsored such a bill. In a series of tweets, he also emphasized the bill is “designed to frighten parents into not vaccinating.”
Though Michigan does have laws in place to make sure kids are vaccinated, you can easily bypass them by claiming you have a physical condition, a religious conviction or “other objections,” which is totally open to all kinds of crazy interpretations.