Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that Covid-19 vaccines are “developed using cell lines derived from aborted children” in a dissenting opinion to the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a challenge to New York’s vaccine mandate for health care workers on Thursday.

“They object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children,” Thomas wrote.

The conservative justice was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Pfizer and Moderna did use fetal cell lines early on in production and testing which is a common practice in the development of vaccines, but the cells used have been replicated numerous times meaning that the original tissue is no longer used in the making of modern vaccines.

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Sixteen healthcare workers sued the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in opposition to the state’s mandate after resigning, being fired or receiving the vaccine. The district court issued an injunction, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the injunction and the case was petitioned up to the Supreme Court.

Thomas argued in his dissent that the question of whether a law like New York’s can be generally applicable if religious exemptions are allowed less frequently than medical exemptions should at least be deliberated.

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