Vivisection and Animal Rights
debate about whether to conduct tests on animals, known in the animal rights community as vivisection, is one of the most difficult to understand.
Why do animal rights activists oppose using non-human animals for medical research?
Animal rights activists are opposed to using animals for medical research because humans do not have the right to use animals. With few exceptions, we do not experiment on human subjects without their consent. Just as we do not experiment on humans who are incapable of consenting to experimentation, we should not experiment on non-human animals. Non-human animals cannot give informed consent, and the vast majority of experiments using animals are so invasive and injurious, we would never even consider allowing humans to consent to being subjects in such experiments.
Isn’t there a law to protect animals in laboratories?
In the United States, the Animal Welfare Act appears to set certain minimum requirements for the humane treatment of non-human animals in laboratories and other settings, but in fact is very ineffective. For example, the AWA explicitly excludes from protection all rats and mice, which make up approximately 95% of the animals used in laboratories. The AWA also requires institutions that perform vivisection to have Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees that are supposed to oversee and approve the proposed use of animals, making sure that non-animal alternatives are considered. However, since IACUC’s include the institution’s own researchers, they tend to rubber stamp the proposals. Furthermore, the AWA does not prohibit invasive procedures or the killing of the animals when the experiments are over. The AWA tends to address more superficial concerns, such as cage size, toys, and anesthesia.
However, regardless of how large the cages are or whether the animals are anesthetized before they are cut open, vivisection is antithetical to... [continues]
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