The following two letters were sent to the Star and the Globe by Campaign Life in an attempt to correct their editorial presentation of the WI-38 Rubella vaccine story as the product of an irrational “fringe” group.
The Toronto Star
Your December 2 editorial “Vaccine isn’t Abortion Issue” finds it “ironic” to see several right-to-life organizations oppose the use of a vaccine against German measles “when this disease can cause pregnant women either to miscarry or to bear severely defective babies.” The issue “these anti-abortionists have raised has nothing to do with … abortion,” you state, because the vaccine involves the cells of only a “single fetus,” cells developed by scientific “procedures” unrelated to the abortion in question. These people, you conclude, only “try to use WI-38 vaccine as a vehicle for their views on abortion.”
In response we draw your attention to your own figures, namely, that in 1979 there were only 27 Canadian babies born with rubella-related “defects” and that there have been none so far in 1984. Yet medical authorities, you say, can’t give credit for this to WI-38 (introduced only some time in 1979) because they are aware that in 1984 a “number of pregnant women exposed to German measles obtained … abortions.´ This shows that the earlier serum derived from animal cells was most effective and that to oppose the use of WI-38 instead of the older serum, can in no way be interpreted as a threat “to the future effectiveness of a public health campaign,” as you do.
Furthermore, we would like to point out that the cells of the 1962 aborted but live “fetus” used for the culture, came almost certainly from an unborn baby in an advanced stage of the mother’s pregnancy, because that is when lung tissue, while still free from external infection, has developed sufficiently.
Finally, you are technically correct in saying that the cell culture was derived from a “single” aborted baby. But you leave out that this could never have been done without years of research to perfect the method, involving experiments upon tissue of hundreds of aborted babies.
We will continue to request the government to replace Vaccine WI-38.
The Globe and Mail
On November 30, 1984, your front page banner featured a report from the monthly pro-life paper The Interim, which revealed that the German measles vaccine WI-38 was derived from cultured tissue of an aborted baby. The Interim editor expressed his repugnance.
On December 1, 1984, you mocked the story and the repugnance in your editorial “Case of Extremism,” where you elaborated on the possible effects of Rubella on unborn babies of mothers who contract the disease. You declared the story and the repugnance to be without reason and extremist.
We welcome your concern about the welfare of the unborn, so unusual in a newspaper which favours the right to abort the unborn. Meanwhile, we would like to point out that vaccine WI-38 has been the exclusive vaccine in Canada only since 1979. Until then, Canada used a very effective vaccine derived from a culture of animal cells, so effective that in the year 1979 only 27 Canadian babies were born with rubella-related handicaps so far, yet medical authorities refuse to give all the credit to the vaccine because they know that a number of mothers who contacted the disease have had abortions.
As for your 1962 single aborted (live) baby, you leave out that years of research to develop this culture, required tissue from hundreds of aborted babies.
We will continue to request the government to replace WI-38.