An anti-vaccination group say parents that choose not to vaccinate their children should receive government funding, claiming some vaccines are derived from aborted babies.
The Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network (AVN) told a federal parliamentary inquiry into religious freedom "several vaccines licensed in Australia utilise human diploid cells derived from aborted fetal tissue".
The AVN claimed some of its workers have had to resign after the federal government stopped childcare subsidies for unvaccinated children, The Herald Sun reported.
“To use vaccines prepared with the products of abortion is a moral evil, and a direct violation of the teachings of pro-life religions, which include Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism,’’ it said.
The AVN claims it is "pro-choice" in its stance on vaccination, rather than "anti-vaccination", and in 2014 it changed its name to include the word "skeptics" after the NSW Office of Fair Trading declared its former name - Australian Vaccination Network - "misleading".
One of the recommendations by the AVN was the amendment of one of the acts.
"A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 2009 (Cth)2 should be amended immediately, to reinstate the right to conscientiously object to vaccinations on religious and secular belief, or conscience grounds," it said.
Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon responded to the AVN, saying it was promoting "conspiracy theories".
“The AMA will not let religious freedom be used in a completely irrational and unscientific fashion,’’ he said.
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According to the Health Department's Australian Immunisation Handbook, some vaccines are grown using “cell lines", which are not included as a component of the vaccine.
"Certain cell lines (human diploid cell lines WI-38 and MRC-5) originated from fetal tissue obtained from three elective abortions, indicated for medical reasons in the 1960s," the handbook said.
"These cell lines have been growing under laboratory conditions for more than 40 years, and there has been no further fetal tissue obtained since the 1960s.
"Vaccines available in Australia which are manufactured using cell lines originally derived from fetal tissue include rubella-containing vaccines (MMR and MMRV), hepatitis A vaccines, varicella vaccines and rabies vaccine."