By Brittany Bernstein

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans is asking Catholics to avoid the recently-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which it says is “morally compromised” by its “extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines.”

Melissa Owens, operations plant manager for the McKesson Corporation, signs the first shipping box of the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, on Monday. Photograph: Timothy D Easley/EPA

In a statement on Friday, the archdiocese noted that while deciding whether to receive the vaccine is an individual choice, that “the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing.”

While a number of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have used cells originally derived from an aborted fetus in the 1970s, the archdiocese argues that Johnson & Johnson “extensive use” is worse than that of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which used the cells lines only to test their vaccines, according to Religion News Service.

This makes the “connection to abortion … extremely remote,” in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the statement argues, recommending that Catholics choose one of those instead if provided a choice.

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