A New Zealand court allowed Christians to refuse to receive abortion-tainted Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, acknowledging that the objection to abortion is a ground core principle in Christianity.
The High Court of New Zealand said on February 25 the government mandate that ordered police officers and New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) personnel to receive a COVID jab to carry out work was an “unlawful” impediment to their free and democratic rights.
Judge Francis Cooke accepted that the obligation to receive a vaccine, which a person objects to because it has been tested on cells derived from a human fetus, potentially an aborted one, does involve a limitation on the manifestation of a religious belief in the observance, practice or teaching of religion.
Cooke said the decision is “grounded in a core principle of the particular Christian religion and the objection to abortion,” adding the fact that others observing the same religion who do not agree with the stance does not mean that the stance itself does not involve the observance of a religious belief.” (Related: Students sue Creighton University for disallowing vaccine exemptions.)
Pfizer’s COVID vaccine was seen to have been derived from fetal cell tissues, as confirmed by a medical expert for the court. However, he said that it is not known whether or not the fetus was aborted. The company’s use of the so-called “immortalized” cell line HEK-293 was originally harvested from the kidney cells of a female in the Netherlands in 1973.
The same medical expert also testified that Pfizer’s vaccine effectiveness declines rapidly after the first month. He said vaccination does not prevent persons from contracting and spreading the disease, particularly the omicron variant. Moreover, he noted that the protection from serious illnesses and death wanes after the second dose, and it seems to wane in a similar way after the third one.
Though the jab mandate is being contested on four separate grounds, it succeeded solely on the basis that the “right to manifest religion” was being suppressed. Thus, the court required that the objection must be relevant to a religious, and not a secular belief.
Cooke also stated that while COVID poses a threat to the continuity of police and NZDF services, the same threat exists for both its vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, concluding that ordering the reception of coronavirus shots makes no “material difference.”
New Zealand’s Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood was also criticized by the court over enacting an order that affected very few members of the police and NZDF. There had been only 164 police officers and 115 NZDF staff protesting the mandate out of over 30,000 employed.
Cooke also noted that the punishing order bordered on “administrative convenience,” adding that it did not justify limiting the rights of the few affected.
Following the decision, terminations of employment based on failure to comply with vaccine mandates were suspended, and eventually, the order was overturned.
Some religious leaders have actually encouraged their members to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including Pope Francis. But the Church continues to let its members make their own decisions regarding vaccination, with its board of directors saying that it recognizes the importance of cooperating with measures considered necessary by public health officials.
Science Committee on Publication spokesperson Lance Matteson said choosing not to get vaccinated is a “conscientious choice to seek help through spiritual means.” (Related: Methodist Health System in Texas faces lawsuits for illegally denying covid vaccine exemptions.)
Matteson said he knows some church members who have chosen to get vaccinated and others who have not. He said that the church does not want any of the members to feel pressured either way. However, he did add that the church has always appreciated the availability of religious accommodations with regard to vaccine requirements.
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