Amid the news explosion that followed President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and brief convalescence earlier this month, there was a nugget you might have missed: The antibody treatment from biotech company Regeneron the president took—seemingly to great effect—had been developed in part by means of cells derived from fetal tissue.
Most of the discussion around this revelation concerned whether it showed the president to be a hypocrite—either personally because of his stated pro-life beliefs, or as a matter of policy because his administration has suspended federal funding for scientific research involving fetal tissue. (Both claims were dubious: There was no reason to believe the president knew the provenance of the Regeneron cocktail when he was treated with it, and the kind of fetal-derived cells used to develop the drug were not included in the administration’s funding freeze.)
But the news portended a larger problem that may prove important in months to come: the ethical objections other pro-life people may have to new COVID treatments—including vaccines—with similar issues in their development history.
“I think it’s going to test our convictions about these things,” said Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, a professor of moral philosophy at evangelical Union University and senior fellow at the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity. “Whether or not we are going to be consistent with our convictions.”