The MAGA “Prolife” Cult Twists Itself into a Moral Pretzel–Again
Time was when the MAGA “prolife” Cult held up Embryonic Stem Cell Research as one of the Five Non-Negotiables.
The 5NN, as you may recall, were the Five Things that Catholic Answers, with Zero Magisterial Authority Whatsoever, sold to the larval MAGA cult in 2004 as the Most Important Things Catholics had to keep in mind as they voted. They were abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage (though you have to say “homosexual” not gay or you are giving in to the Agenda by using one of Their words), human cloning, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
Almost immediately, these morphed into the Only Five Things That Matter and were instantly pitted against the victims of all the stuff the GOP wanted to do, such as war, torture, fiscal irresponsibility and the various ruinous policies of the Bush Administration that led to mass death in the mideast and economic catastrophe at home. None of that mattered, because only the 5NN mattered and any questioning of that meant you were Secretly Pro-Abortion and probably a Lib. Opposed to torture? Why do you care about that when babies are being aborted? Racism trouble you? The real (and only) racism is abortion! Capital punishment? Who cares if you kill a prisoner, even an innocent one, when babies are killed! Unjust war? It’s a prudential judgment! Abortion is gravely and intrinsically immoral!
As the years passed, the 5NNs started to evaporate away. Human cloning disappeared because nobody was doing it. Gay marriage vanished for the very good reason that GOP justice Anthony Kennedy, who already gave us the Casey decision, made it the law of the land and the vast majority of Americans, including the GOP, didn’t much care.
And along with that went ESCR. Why? Because Bush said it was fine and McCain underscored that in 2008, so the principled titans of the MAGA “prolife” movement rolled over like cocker spaniels wanting their bellies scratched.
Which brings us to now.
A residuum of “prolife” advocates clung to the idea that they should at least hector and accuse people who get vaccinations made from or with harvested fetal cells. So, for instance, here is “prolife” Folk Hero Abby Johnson declaring that any COVID vaccine or treatment will be automatically suspect, because using fetal tissue makes it Beyond the Pale:
Likewise, here is LifeNews, pouring out condemnation on Moderna for working on a vaccine using cell from aborted children. And likewise here. Indeed, over the years the MAGA “prolife” propaganda machine has made a cottage industry of attacking those who develop or use cures involving fetal cells or tissues from aborted babies.
That is, until last week, when the Greatest, Most Prolifeyest President in the History of Ever began touting the wondrous work of Regeneron and its wonder cures, which are made using fetal cells.
As is the case with many other science-focused biotechnology companies, Regeneron uses a wide variety of research tools and technologies to help discover and develop new therapeutics. Stem cells are one such tool. The stem cells most commonly used at Regeneron are mouse embryonic stem cells and human blood stem cells. Currently, there are limited research efforts employing human-induced pluripotent stem cell lines derived from adult human cells and human embryonic stem cells that are approved for research use by the National Institutes of Health and created solely through in vitro fertilization. Research using such stem cells allows Regeneron to model complex diseases, test new drug candidates and can help unlock new scientific insights that ultimately could lead to the discovery of new treatments for people with serious diseases.
The response of the MAGA “prolife” community that has spent years beating innocent people over the head for getting vaccinations or drugs sourced in such fetal cell based research and calling those who do complicit in the murder of the unborn?
Antiabortion groups told Insider they took no issue with the fact that one of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 treatments — which he is now vowing to make available to all Americans — was tested using cells that originally came from an abortion.
To treat Trump, doctors gave him supplemental oxygen and treatments including a steroid typically used in severe COVID-19 cases and an experimental antibody cocktail created by the US biotech company Regeneron.
To test the antibody cocktail’s effectiveness, Regeneron used an “immortalized epithelial cell line,” or cells that were altered in a lab so they could last forever when they otherwise would not. These cells, now called HEK 293T cells, were derived from the kidneys of a fetus that was aborted in 1972 in the Netherlands.
When Insider asked three antiabortion organizations — the Heritage Foundation, Texas Alliance for Life, and Pro-Life Action League — about the origin of Trump’s COVID-19 treatment, they demurred.
In the past, antiabortion advocates have spoken out against medical treatments that use components derived from aborted fetal tissue at any point in the creation and testing processes, including experimental coronavirus vaccines.
However, each group told Insider they would not engage in this controversy — some because they said they believed the cells used in testing bore little connection to the 1972 abortion and others because the antibody cocktail itself didn’t contain traces of fetal tissue.
One organization’s executive director told Insider they had no criticism of Trump and supported him because he opposes abortion and has vowed to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would remove Americans’ automatic right to abortion.
Yes. You read that right. Trump gets to promote technologies which, the day before he started promoting them, we condemned as non-negotiable moral issues by such Cult propagandists as LifeNews–Because Abortion.
Ironies here abound. In actual Catholic teaching the response to the rise of these technologies has been much more nuanced than in the “prolife” MAGA Cult. The Church basically says “Try to have ethically sourced treatments wherever possible, but we get that the need to save human lives is of great importance and the source material for some of this is so remotely attenuated that it’s nuts to refuse, say, a German Measles vaccine that can save thousands of lives. So it’s okay to get the vaccine, but still try to create medicines that don’t involve abortion wherever possible.” Here is the conclusion of the Vatican document that analyzes this problem, written in standard ecclesialese:
“To summarize, it must be confirmed that:
- there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems;
- as regards the vaccines without an alternative, the need to contest so that others may be prepared must be reaffirmed, as should be the lawfulness of using the former in the meantime insomuch as is necessary in order to avoid a serious risk not only for one’s own children but also, and perhaps more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole – especially for pregnant women;
- the lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense, also active, morally justified as an extrema ratio due to the necessity to provide for the good of one’s children and of the people who come in contact with the children (pregnant women);
- such cooperation occurs in a context of moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.”
This is perfectly reasonable. It’s also not what the MAGA Cult says, and still less what Trump says. So instead of holding a sane position, the MAGA cult has whipsawed from guilt-mongering with anti-vax nonsense to giving carte blanche to Trump’s promotion of fetal treatments full speed ahead and without the slightest thought for their sources.
The point is this: actual, sane, real, prolife adherents of the Church’s actual teaching just go on saying what they have always said: Try to get medicines that do not originate in cells and tissues of aborted fetuses if at all possible. But if you can’t, you are not sinning to get vaccinatedbecause we are looking at very remote cooperation with evil, like buying gum at a store that employs a guy whose brother makes porn with his camera. Do what you can to work with ethical vaccines, but don’t let that stop you from giving your kid an MMR shot.
The Cult, in contrast, guilts people out about remote material cooperation with evil right up until the second it pivots to promote active and direct cooperation with evil by protecting a President who urgently calls for treatments that use fetal materials. It’s all good suddenly. Because it’s Trump and he will magick abortion away someday. So this thing we’ve pretended to condemn for years is suddenly great–because Trump says so.
The MAGA Cult has goals, not principles. In the end, nothing matters to it but raw, nihilist, predatory power for the sake of power.