As another wave of measles breaks out in the US and Canada, the vaccine debate has broken out in Catholic circles. My oldest child is partially vaccinated for measles while my youngest is not at all. The reason for this is that I'm not actually anti-vaccine, as the term is often coined, but I've got a more informed conscience. About two years after HB's birth, I came across a thread that mentioned the correlation between vaccines and abortion. I hadn't heard anything like that before. It's not mentioned in pulpits. It's not a common discussion amongst Catholic parents, unless you count the internet. I explored the topic further and discovered not only correlation with vaccines, but also some medications and food products. I had heard about medical research but didn't realize that included basically all levels of medical research.
There are some vaccines which have ethical alternatives. My children are vaccinated using those. And Catholics are called to seek out and use those only. However, there are those with no ethical alternatives. It is in those cases that Catholic parents are called to weigh between being charitable to ones neighbors and cooperating however remotely with evil. It's not an easy decision. One should inform themselves about the risks both to ones soul and to one physically. I looked at the research and my husband and I made a choice. So our children are partially vaccinated. They would be vaccinated against measles except Merk, who owns the corner on the market, no longer makes Measles and Mumps separate from the unethical Rubella. Therefore, we can't get the measles vaccine without violating our conscience. It's unfortunate.
As a result, many of my fellow Catholics have lumped my family into the category of "anti-vaccinators" and have equated us being stupid and whatnot. While I certainly value the information about vaccinations (in the beginning I was not informed), I don't appreciate the coercion. I realize that the decision is a tough one to make and I wouldn't treat those who make a different choice with such disdain. Coercing (or harassing) is not treating one's neighbor with charity. We should be on the same team, trying to get ethical vaccines made and on the market, and rallying to get Merk to separate the MMR vaccine again.
Someone on another forum asked a very good question. If it's about not cooperating with remote evil, then why do those who oppose the rubella vaccine pay taxes? Isn't that cooperating with remote evil since our taxes go to certain abortions or in my case, all abortions?
No. My husband and I don't volunteer to pay our taxes. We aren't cooperating. You can volunteer to pay more taxes in the US so it is possible to cooperate, but most people don't. Taxes are forced. They are forcibly removed from you pay check up front or they are forcible garnished from your pay check, your bank account, or any other assets you have if you wait to pay. This is done against ones will or conscience whether they wish it or not, which is why many rally against it. OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) is also forcibly removed from us. We cannot opt out. It's like taxes. So are we cooperating remotely with evil? No.
Vaccination on the other hand is voluntary. Certainly the state does take measures to make it difficult to follow ones conscience. Mississippi has no conscience exemption and many other states like Missouri require some sort of legal attestation in order to attend school or daycare. That said the government isn't removing children from class to have them vaccinated. Nor is the government removing children from their parent's care in order to vaccinate them. To vaccinate a child is still a decision held by the family. Therefore one is cooperating, however fervently coerced, when one accepts an unethical vaccine.
How does this relate to moral culpability? It's very small. But as a matter of conscience one needs to access how small a thing can start a snow ball affect for your family. One also needs to access whether taking this stand will help change vaccine access. Think of it this way. During the civil right's movement people boycotted buses. Large number of people "saying no, this is not right. we will not cooperate with moral evil" made a huge difference to how the US is today. Likewise, large groups of families saying the same thing about vaccines, drugs, foods, cancer research, etc can make a difference. You have to decide if protesting in this manner is beneficial for your family or could it be a cause of concern.
Hope that helps.