Story at a glance

  • The mandate was part of a state bill passed by the Republican-majority legislature and signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) earlier this month that allocated funds from the federal coronavirus relief package.
  • The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was produced by growing the virus in fetal cells during vaccine development and manufacturing.
  • The move was lauded by anti-abortion groups while some Michigan Democrats criticized their Republican colleagues of politicizing the state’s public health effort to fight the coronavirus.

A new law in Michigan requires residents receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to be informed the shot was developed using a stem cell line originating from an aborted human fetus, according to The Detroit Free Press

The mandate was part of a state bill passed by the Republican-majority legislature and signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) earlier this month that allocated funds from the federal coronavirus relief package. It requires anyone who’s given a vaccine paid for through the $110 million relief legislation to “be provided with information or informed if and in what manner the development of the vaccine utilized aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem cell derivation lines.” 


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According to the Free Press, the requirement does not state how the notification process would work, who needs to notify vaccine recipients or who will enforce the mandate, but the state’s health department has updated its vaccine information website to include details on how the single-shot vaccine was manufactured. Fact sheets from the health department also include such details. 

“The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been produced by growing the virus in fetal cells during vaccine development and manufacturing (using the PER.C6.line). Even though fetal cells are used to grow the vaccine virus, vaccines do not contain these cells or pieces of DNA. The mRNA vaccines (those by Pfizer and Moderna) did not use a fetal cell line to produce or manufacture the vaccine,” a frequently asked questions page from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services states

The move was lauded by anti-abortion groups while some Michigan Democrats criticized their Republican colleagues of politicizing the state’s public health effort to fight the coronavirus. 

“Colleagues, this pandemic was never supposed to be political. Wear a mask, wash your hands, do your best to keep distant from others — really simple, basic instructions to help keep us safe and keep others safe,” state Sen. Erika Geiss (D) said in opposition to the language in the bill. 

“It’s disappointing but not surprising that you’re putting politics into this process in order to scare people from getting this extremely safe vaccine.” 

Earlier this month, Michigan’s Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and AstraZeneca vaccine, which has yet to receive emergency use authorization in the U.S., “morally problematic.” They urged Catholics to only take the vaccine if there were no other alternatives. 


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Published on Mar 30, 2021