Animal Rights Essay, Research Paper
Do all animals have the same rights as humans? Some but not all, animal rights
activists believe animals have inherent legal and moral rights, just as humans do.
According to this viewpoint it is unethical to use animals for any purpose,
whether for pets, research, recreation, clothing, or as food (Press 17). Animal
use in testing is a huge controversial issue. Some believe animals have the same
rights as humans and should for no reason be used as test subjects for research.
Others, including members of medical and scientific communities say it is
unethical not to use animals in research because animal experiments can lead to
medical discoveries that improve the health and well-being of both humans and
animals (Leepson 304). Human health will not improve without animal
There is of course two sides to this issue. Worldwide, animals are used in
numerous experiments which inflict pain and suffering to the animal. The first
testing of animals started over one hundred years ago. Since then, animal
testing has been a source of emotional conflict for humans. In 1966, the Animal
Welfare Act took place (307). This was the start of the animal rights movement.
Over the years, animal activists have become increasingly vocal and/or
destructive. The ways in which animal activists try to get their message across
to the public varies greatly. Some conduct letter-writing campaigns, others
attack laboratories and harass scientists (Green 204) One of these groups is the
PETA founded in 1980 by Alex Pacheco and Ingrid Newkirk. PETA stands for
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group works on a wide range of
issues such as biochemical testing, cosmetic testing, dissection, factory farming,
neglect and abuse to animals in pet stores, and through hunting and trapping,
and the wearing of fur, and non-leather footwear (Masci 686). The PETA is not
known to be a violent group. Instead it often pulls public stunts. For example
three members dressed in rabbit suits and chained themselves to a flagpole in
front of Gillette head quarters in Boston, Mass. to protest the company s use of
animals in product testing. The stunt was an embarrassment to the company.
While PETA may be the most visible animal rights group, it is by no means alone.
There are dozens of rights groups who pursue a more far-reaching agenda.
One of these groups is the ALF, Animal Liberation Front. This group emerged in
the United States in the late 1970 s and has claimed responsibility for destroying
or damaging more than one hundred labs and farms around the nation (686).
In a world of animal testing there are a wide range of tests. These tests are
done for multiple purposes, from finding a cure for a disease to testing the
harshness of a shampoo or floor cleaner. Many activists claim that animal
testing is not only unethical but also often scientifically unproductive.
There have been some medical advances of course but the pay off
is slight. When you re doing billions of animal experiments, it would
be a miracle if there weren t some developments, says George
Cave an animal activist.
When Dr. Hamm was told what George Cave said, Hamm came back with a
strong argument. He discused how childhood leukemia, used to be a death
sentence but now those kids get to go home. He also discussed Hodgkin s
disease and how it is now a treatable cancer when ten years ago it was also a
death sentence. Another argument he stated was how we can treat some types
of liver cancer today and the research that got us there was done on animals
because it had to be. There are no other alternatives exist that could give us this
progress (Green 204).
One species that humans tend to use often in testing because they are
most like ourselves is the chimpanzee. They are used in different experiments.
Because chimpanzees are more like humans than any other species they are
popular subjects for the development of vaccines for prevention of hepatitis B,
hepatitis C and onchocerciasis. Chimpanzees are the only nonhuman animal
species susceptible to these infections (Prince 115). Animal Activists are against
the use of chimpanzees b/c of the decline in the chimpanzee population. In
approximately the past ten years the chimpanzee population of Gabon,
containing some of the best habitats, was reduced by twenty percent. There is
an estimate between four thousand and five thousand chimpanzees that exist
worldwide in medical institutions, zoological exhibits, roadside menageries,
entertainment compounds and homes of per owners. In the United States about
two thousand of three thousand confined chimpanzees exist in biochemical
facilities (Teleki 119).
Although chimpanzees are the closest in relation to humans many
different animals are used in research. The treatment of these animals is what
many activists are concerned about. Animal Rights Activists use a variety of
tactics to promote the humane treatment and wellbeing of animals. If not for
them no laws would be made to protect animal rights. In the past decade the
animal rights movement has taken on a more militant posture. Some procedures
they use range from public demonstrations, media campaigns and boycotts to
raids on medical laboratories to liberate research animals, and sending bomb
threats. Some of these tactics are in question but many have helped the animal
rights cause (Green 204). The number of animals used in cosmetic testing has
been significantly reduced and the conditions of laboratory animals used in
biomedical research has greatly improved (Leepson 303). Although these tactics
have enhanced animal rights, the animal rights movement has long and short
term costs on society. The short term costs are that research becomes more
expensive while the long term cost is schemes like these may slow research
down which in return means human health will suffer and few treatments will be
Animal testing is very beneficial to both humans and animals. By doing
research on animals, humans may find cures for diseases and new or better ways
of performing surgical procedures that may save human and animal lives. The
same methods that have been developed to prevent and treat diseases in humans
have improved the lives of countless animals. Many of the vaccines, antibiotics,
surgical procedures, and other approches developed for humans using animals
are now employed through veterinary medicine. Treatments have been
developed specifically for animals in many cases such as baccines for rabies,
canine parvovirus, distemper, and feline leukemia (Press 14).
Even with animals advances Animal Rights Activists say other alternatives
can be used in place of animals to experiment on but some researchers say that
using animals is the only way to see how a substance will react in an entire body
system. They say computer models are cell cultures do not provide all the
information of how something will react (Masci 679). Scientists say using
animals for testing is expensive and they would rather use computers or other
alternatives if they would give them the same or better results but generally
mom-animal experiments are alternatives or adjuncts that are usually only useful
in determining how something will affect a specific part of the human body (Press
Animal testing has improved human living in many ways. Surgical
procedures, pain, relievers, psychoactive drugs, medications for blood pressure,
insulin, pacemakers, nutrition supplements, organ transplants, treatment for
shock trauma and blood disease all have been developed and tested in animals
before being used in humans.
Virtually every advance in medical science in the twentiethcentury,
from antibiotics and vaccines to antidepressants drugs and organ
transplants, has been achieved either directly or indirectly through
the use of animals in laboratory experiments, according to the
American Medical Association (6).
One such experiment was done on HIV using mice. Researcher recently
reported success using mice transplanted with human immune cells to test the
efficacy of an AIDS drug. They are hoping this animal model can help assess the
potential of various drugs against AIDS. The researchers injected forty mice with
HIV and in two weeks they tested the mice with PCR a genetic technique, and HIV
showed up in all forty mice. Then the researchers took seventeen other mice and
injected them with zidovudine twenty-four hours before injecting them with the
HIV virus and for two weeks immediatly following. After those two weeks the
researcher tested some of the seventeen mice with PCR and found no HIV but
then they used a more sensitive technique and found a few cells with the HIV
virus. It was proven that with the drug zidovudine injected into the mice the HIV
virus was less effective in the body. Researchers are hoping that models like this
will be useful for drug testing (Fackelmann).
Another success that has been discovered with the help of mice is a
treatment for non-Hodgkin s lymphoma. In one case study Greg Maas discovered
that he had non-Hodgkin s lymphoma, a type of cancer. He underwent
chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant to repair the damage done
to his immune system. The drugs used in Greg to kill the cancer were tested on
mice susceptible to leukemia. There are few side-effects because the mice were
genetically identical making it possible to compare compounds (Press 1).
Another way animals are helping to contribute to better health is with
surgical procedures. Richard Pothier was diagnosed with a deadly disease that
completely destroyed his heart. Had there been no experiments on dogs, sheep
or mice he would not be alive today. Mice have been a big help in the
development of organ transplants. Researchers were able to study inbred mice
with slightly different immune systems and learn that transplanted organs are
rejected because of immunological reactions in the host. This has made it
possible to identify the best donor for an organ transplant (Pothier 18). Today
thousands of people are alive because of transplanted kidneys, hearts, lungs,
livers, bone marrow and other organs and tissues.
The issue of animal-to-human organ transplants, or xenografts, another
controversy that goes along with animal rights. Animal right groups oppose
xenografts under all conditions (Worsnop 711). But Americans refuse to donate
enough organs to help others stay alive. Biomedical engineers are working hard
on mechanical replacements for hearts, but the human body does not take kindly
to such machines. However anti-rejection drugs can successfully allow animal
organs to be used in humans. Xenografts are nearing routine use as bridges to
transplantation s. In the future, genetically altered animals may be bred to
provide matched organs for dying humans. Of course this many never happen if
animal rights activists convince society it is wrong to use pigs, baboons, or
monkeys to save a human life (Pothier 18). Besides this being a problem of
ethics, animal right groups argue that many times animal-to-human organ
transplants fail (Worsnop 711). But that should be no reason to quit trying. For
at least ten years the problems of human-to-human transplants were not solved
either (Pothier 18).
Another surgical procedure we have because of the tests done on animals
is balloon angioplasty. There was a case study of Charolette Evert, an eight week
old girl who contracte pnemonia. She was successfully treated with antibiotics
but during follow up studies, she was found to have hypoplastic artery syndrom.
This is a fatal narrowing of the arteries leading from the heart to the lungs. At
twelve months she became one of the hundreds of thousands of people to
undergo open heart surgery in the United States. Unfortunatly by age three her
heart was again failing, because of excessive pressures required to pump blood
to her lungs. A heart-lung transplant was considered but the doctors thought it
to be too dangerous because she was only a child. Instead she underwent
balloon angioplasty, a treatment of cardiovascular disease. The procedure was a
success and gave Charolette a normal life. Balloon angioplasty was developed in
the 1970 s using dogs and cadavers. In this procedure a catheter is passed down
a narrow artery and when it encounters a narrowing of the arteries the catheter is
inflated, widening the vessel. More than two hundred thousand people in the
United States receive balloon angioplasty each year for treatment of heart
disease to save their lives (Press 2).
In the nineteenth century there was little that could be done to treat heart
disease because there was no way to repair the heart of a living patient.
Surgeons began experimenting with heart operations on dogs and other animals.
By 1923 they successfully repaired a heart valve on a twelve year old girl. Still
heart surgery remained limited because there was no way to keep the blood
flowing through the body while performing operations so the operations could
not take very long. Researchers began to experiment on animals to develop
pumps for the hear to use during surgery and by the 1930 s the task was
Using animals in laboratories has also helped us to come up with different
treatments for illnesses such as depression. As one in two hundred adults do,
Gloria Barry sank in to a depression. She went to a psychiatrist who treated her
slightly manic. The psychiatrist then prescribed lithium which is used to treat
manic-depression and Gloria quickly returned to her normal self. The effect of
lithium, the drug used to help cure Gloria, was discovered in 1994. Research was
done on guinea pigs and observed that it h ad a calming effect on them. Then it
was tested on humans and was found that it was a treatment for people suffering
from manic-depresive illness. It took another two decades of research on
animals befor it gained acceptance. Without this research many people who
suffer from manic-depression would never have a treatment for it (Press 2).
People clearly want the benefits of animal research. They also want
animals to be well treated and to undergo a minimum of pain and distress.
Decisions about animal research should be made based on both reason and
values. We should be made based on both reason and values. We should use
animals in research in a way that is best going to help us in the future without
putting them through more pain than necessary. It would be unfair to halt
research given the harm that could accure future generations.
Animals will continue to be essential in combating human illness. Human
health has greatly improved over the last one hundred years because of the
research done on animals. We still have much research to do and much to learn
on many of the leading disease killers of today such as cancer, atherosclerosis,
debates, and other conditions such as strokes, arthritis, and other mental
disorders (Press 6). Most Americans except the use of animals in
experimentation. Although they might not agree with all the testing that may
occur with cosmetics and household cleaners most agree that when it comes to
finding cures and vaccines it is important to use them to do research.