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Is material from aborted babies used in vaccine culture in the USA?


Below are the dates of abortions that provided material for developing “continuous cell lines” used to culture virus for vaccine production.

1962 July: The rubella virus in the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) three-in-one shot is grown on the WI-38 cell line-developed in 1962 from an aborted three-month-old female fetus.

WI = Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA. 38 = 38th aborted baby.

1964: RA273 (R=rubella, A=abortus, 27=27th tissue tested, 3=3rd tissue explanted) also called RA/27/3. From this tissue a rubella virus was obtained that was cultured in the WI38 cell line.

1966, September: MRC-5 cell line derived from the normal lung tissue of a 14-week-old male fetus aborted "for psychiatric reasons."

(For more information, see:


MRC = Medical Research Council in England.

U.S. Produced Vaccines from Aborted Cell Lines:

DiseaseVaccine Name Manufacturer Cell line
Chickenpox/Varicella (Varivax) Merck & Co. MRC-5
Diptheria DtaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel) Sanofi Pasteur, Inc MRC-5
Hepatitis A (Havrix,) Glaxo/SmithKline MRC-5
Hepatitis A (Vaqta) Merck & Co. MRC-5
HepA/HepB (Twinrix) Glaxo/SmithKline MRC-5
Measles/Mumps/Rubella MMR (MMR-II) Merck & Co. WI38 *
Measles/Mumps/Rubella/Varcella MMRV (ProQuad) Merck & Co. MRC-5
Rabies (Imovax) Aventis-Pasteur MRC-5
Shingles/Zoster (Zostavax) Merck & Co. MRC-5

Reference: see the excerpt from, Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary, Part 2 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the next table, except for the MMR vaccine for which an excerpt from Merck's MMR-II package insert following 3 paragraphs from the Vaccine Summary.

Ethical Alternatives:
Note: there are no vaccines from non aborted tissue cell line sources available in the USA for Rubella, Chickenpox, Shingles and Hepatitis A vaccines.

Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary, Part 2 [Excerpt]

Excipients Included in U.S. Vaccines, by Vaccine

Includes vaccine ingredients (e.g., adjuvants and preservatives) as well as substances used during the manufacturing process, including vaccine-production media, that are removed from the final product and present only in trace quantities.

In addition to the substances listed, most vaccines contain Sodium Chloride (table salt).



DtaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel)

Aluminum Phosphate, Bovine Serum Albumin, Formaldehyde, Glutaraldhyde, MRC-5 DNA and Cellular Protein, Neomycin, Polymyxin B Sulfate, Polysorbate 80, 2-Phenoxyethanol,

Hep A (Havrix)

Aluminum Hydroxide, Amino Acids, Formaldehyde or Formalin, MRC-5 Cellular Protein, Neomycin Sulfate, 2-Phenoxyethanol, Phosphate Buffers, Polysorbate

Hep A (Vaqta)

Aluminum Hydroxyphosphate Sulfate, Bovine Albumin or Serum, DNA,

Formaldehyde or Formalin, MRC-5 Cellular Protein, Sodium Borate

HepA/HepB (Twinrix)

Aluminum Hydroxide, Aluminum Phosphate, Amino Acids, Dextrose, Formaldehyde or Formalin, Inorganic Salts, MRC-5 Cellular Protein, Neomycin Sulfate, 2-Phenoxyethanol, Phosphate Buffers, Polysorbate 20, Thimerosal*, Vitamins, Yeast Protein


Amino Acid, Bovine Albumin or Serum, Chick Embryo Fibroblasts, Human Serum Albumin, Gelatin, Glutamate, Neomycin, Phosphate Buffers, Sorbitol, Sucrose, Vitamins [**See Merck Package Insert. Pg. 3]

MMRV (ProQuad)

Bovine Albumin or Serum, Gelatin, Human Serum Albumin, Monosodium L-glutamate, MRC-5 Cellular Protein, Neomycin, Sodium Phosphate Dibasic, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sorbitol, Sucrose, Potassium Phosphate Monobasic, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate Dibasic

Rabies (Imovax)

Human Serum Albumin, Beta-Propiolactone, MRC-5 Cellular Protein,Neomycin, Phenol Red (Phenolsulfonphthalein), Vitamins

Varicella (Varivax)

Bovine Albumin or Serum, Ethylenediamine-Tetraacetic Acid Sodium (EDTA), Gelatin, Monosodium L-Glutamate, MRC-5 DNA and Cellular Protein,Neomycin, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate Monobasic, Sodium Phosphate Monobasic, Sucrose

Zoster (Zostavax)

Bovine Calf Serum, Hydrolyzed Porcine Gelatin, Monosodium L-glutamate, MRC-5 DNA and Cellular Protein, Neomycin, Potassium Phosphate Monobasic, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate Dibasic, Sucrose

March 2010

Table above is an excerpt from a CDC document found at:

Continued notes from CDC document:

*Where “thimerosal” is marked with an asterisk (*) it indicates that the product should be considered equivalent to thimerosal-free products. This vaccine may contain trace amounts (<0.3 mcg) of mercury left after post-production thimerosal removal, but these amounts have no biological effect. JAMA 1999;282(18) and JAMA 2000;283(16)

Adapted from Grabenstein JD. ImmunoFacts: Vaccines & Immunologic Drugs. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc.; 2009 and individual products’ package inserts.

All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but manufacturers may change product contents before that information is reflected here.

Merck & CO., INC. Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889, USA




M-M-R* II (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live) is a live virus vaccine for vaccination against measles (rubeola), mumps, and rubella (German measles). M-M-R II is a sterile lyophilized preparation of (1) ATTENUVAX* (Measles Virus Vaccine Live), a more attenuated line of measles virus, derived from Enders' attenuated Edmonston strain and propagated in chick embryo cell culture; (2) MUMPSVAX* (Mumps Virus Vaccine Live), the Jeryl Lynn** (B level) strain of mumps virus propagated in chick embryo cell culture; and (3) MERUVAX* II (Rubella Virus Vaccine Live), the Wistar RA 27/3 strain of live attenuated rubella virus propagated in WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts.1,2

The growth medium for measles and mumps is Medium 199 (a buffered salt solution containing vitamins and amino acids and supplemented with fetal bovine serum) containing SPGA (sucrose, phosphate, glutamate, and recombinant human albumin) as stabilizer and neomycin. The growth medium for rubella is Minimum Essential Medium (MEM) [a buffered salt solution containing vitamins and amino acids and supplemented with fetal bovine serum] containing recombinant human albumin and neomycin. Sorbitol and hydrolyzed gelatin stabilizer are added to the individual virus harvests.

The cells, virus pools, and fetal bovine serum are all screened for the absence of adventitious agents. The reconstituted vaccine is for subcutaneous administration. Each 0.5 mL dose contains not less than 1,000 TCID50 (tissue culture infectious doses) of measles virus; 12,500 TCID50 of mumps virus; and 1,000 TCID50 of rubella virus. Each dose of the vaccine is calculated to contain sorbitol (14.5 mg), sodium phosphate, sucrose (1.9 mg), sodium chloride, hydrolyzed gelatin (14.5 mg), recombinant human albumin (≤0.3 mg), fetal bovine serum (<1 ppm), other buffer and media ingredients and approximately 25 mcg of neomycin. The product contains no preservative.

Before reconstitution, the lyophilized vaccine is a light yellow compact crystalline plug. M-M-R II, when reconstituted as directed, is clear yellow.

* Registered trademark of MERCK & CO., Inc.
COPYRIGHT © 2009 MERCK & CO., Inc.
[Issued March 2010]
All rights reserved
** Trademark of MERCK & CO., Inc.

Excerpt above is from the Package Insert found at:

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