An American Catholic church body on Tuesday urged its followers to avoid the coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, alleging that it was “developed, tested and produced using abortion-derived cell lines.”

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged Catholics to choose between the alternatives offered by Pfizer and Moderna because the J&J vaccine raised questions about “moral permissibility.”

“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines,” said Bishop Kevin C Rhoades, chairman of USCCB.

The body said the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are preferable “if one has the ability to choose a vaccine.”

The multinational pharmaceutical company in its statement said that “there is no foetal tissue” in the jabs, reported the Associated Press. The news wire agency, however, noted that the company did not dispute the contention that an abortion-derived cell line in the vaccine production.

The latest statement by the Catholic Church body has renewed the discussions about the vaccine.

Earlier in December, the Vatican had issued a statement on the use of abortion-derived cells in the vaccine and said that “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses” in the research and production process when “ethically irreproachable” vaccines aren’t available to the public.

The advances in foetal tissue research have led to a number of important medical advances, reported the Guardian.

In fact, one of the drugs that former president Donald Trump took during his treatment of coronavirus last October, was developed using human cells originally obtained from elective abortion. Previously, the then-president had not just denounced the practice but had also decided to cut funding in the research that used foetal tissue.

The cells have been used in some of the biggest medical advances of the 20th century including polio, chickenpox, hepatitis A, reported NBC.