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New Orleans archdiocese calls for Catholics to avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urged Catholics on Friday against taking a vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because the vaccine is developed from stem cells obtained from two abortions.

In a statement on the archdiocese's website, the organization argued that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was "morally compromised."

"The archdiocese must instruct Catholics 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," the statement read.

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"We advise that if the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is available, Catholics should choose to receive either of those vaccines rather than to receive the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of its extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines," the archdiocese continued.

A request for comment from Johnson & Johnson was not immediately returned.

Catholic groups that oppose abortion have long criticized medical companies that use human cell lines from aborted fetuses, while companies including Johnson & Johnson have defended the process as leading to medical breakthroughs on the disease prevention front.

"As a research tool, human pluripotent stem cells promise to expand our understanding of normal physiologic processes such as cell growth and differentiation, and to enable new insights into disease, which may lead to new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat a wide variety of disorders," reads a statement on the company's website.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine became the third candidate authorized for emergency use in the U.S. earlier this month, joining two others on the market produced by drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer.