Animal rights vs. research
Controversy Surrounding Animal Experimentation (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
The practice of utilizing animals as test subjects in research has resulted in the informal formation of two basic factions: those who support its role as providing information regarding the contagion and transmission of diseases, their treatment, and their potential cure; and those who deplore the use of animals, citing miserable living conditions for captive animals, which are subjected to painful and debilitating experiments that sometimes result in disfigurement, permanent injury, or death. Those in the first party include doctors, medical researchers, and the patients and their families who have benefited from the information gained. They believe that the performance of experiments on animals has been invaluable, leading to the discovery of many medical treatments and cures for humans afflicted with disease, as well as information related to the risks and benefits of drugs or other products. The second party, often referred to as animal rights activists, is made up of people dedicated to halting the testing and killing of animals in experiments. Groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) have picketed laboratories, incensed critics, and, in extreme cases, destroyed testing facilities and released the animals kept in them in order to prevent or impede further testing. These groups believe that animals have a right to live in their normal...
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The Benefits of Animal Research (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Whether the use of animals in experiments is ethical is a matter of debate. Not all animal experimentation is equal. The goals of animal experimentation for product safety, such as for cosmetics versus a drug for heart disease, may need to be weighed separately. The merit and the pros and cons may differ substantially in the eyes of both animal testing advocates and animal rights advocates.
Nevertheless, such research has had many successes. Breakthroughs using animal research have resulted in the development of a vaccine for polio, treatments for cancer, safer heart surgery, and even the artificial heart. Some other medical discoveries made through animal research, listed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are in aging, anesthesia, behavioral studies, cardiovascular medicine, the study of hearing (audiology), ophthalmology, organ transplantation, pulmonary medicine, radiology, reproductive biology, virology, and the treatment and study of AIDS, cancer, hemophilia, hepatitis, malaria, rabies, and toxoplasmosis.
Aging. Direct relationships between infections and immunologic disease have made dogs an excellent example to study in cases of amyloidosis. Dogs also serve as models for the study of Alzheimer’s disease because of similar pathological changes—an increase in neuritic plaques—seen with Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Primates also exhibit this abundance of...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Through the use of animals as test subjects, benefits have been gained for both humans and animals. Many therapies and cures have been discovered through careful experimentation with animals in which a particular animal is found to be suited to a particular test. Animal research has been performed for centuries, and the information gleaned from the procedures has provided modern medicine with many vaccines and treatments that probably would not have been possible without such research.
Animal rights activists have struck a nerve in the field of research and have increased awareness among animal researchers about ensuring the use of humane methods of experimentation. Continued dialogue between these groups will be necessary to avoid the halting of important medical research and to discourage the unnecessary use of animals when other methods are available.
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Breo, Dennis L. “Animal Rights vs. Research? A Question of the Nation’s Scientific Literacy.” Journal of the American Medical Association 264 (November 21, 1990): 2564. An excellent source of information regarding all aspects of animal biomedical research.
Cohen, Carl, and Tom Regan. The Animal Rights Debate. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. An exploration of the philosophical debate with the authors representing the opposite poles.
Cooke, Patrick. “A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Debate over Animal Rights Is Full of Equations That Don’t Add Up.” Health 5 (July/August, 1991): 58-64. An excellent article examining the highly emotional issue of animal experimentation in medical research.
Fox, James G., et al., eds. Laboratory Animal Medicine. 2d ed. New York: Academic Press, 2002. A text that covers the biological and disease aspects of laboratory animal medicine. Also explores the biohazards associated with the use of animal experimentation and factors complicating the bioethics of animal research.
Groves, Julian McAllister. Hearts and Minds: The Controversy over Laboratory Animals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997. This book describes the controversies involved in the use of laboratory animals for different types of testing.
Jackson, Christine. “Dissection: Science or Violence?” Mothering,...
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