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Animal experimentation- should it be stopped?

May 5, 2012

A small, shivering cat is kept awake for 43 hours by the ever-present shocks delivered directly to her brain. Sleep-deprived and dazed with pain, she tries to moan in pain but is unable to, as her vocal cords were cut so as not to disturb the scientists. All she can do is shake and hope it ends soon which, fortunately, it will. Tomorrow, the scientists will decapacitate her and remove her brain to study the effects of their experiment. I wish I could say that this was all made up, untrue, false. But this is a real thing, happening worldwide. 100 to 300 million animals die in laboratory experiments each day. It is thus argued that animal experimentation is morally unjustifiable as animals have a right to not be exploited. It is wrong to inflict injury and diseases, that would otherwise not be experienced by animals, for our own purposes and using countless animal lives as a means to an end is unethical.

However, on the other hand, it is argued that animal experimentation is morally justifiable as it leads to cures for diseases. Scientific experiments that resulted in the protection of millions of human beings from diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, rabies, rubella and tetanus all used animals. Scientific experiments that are now in progress to combat AIDS, lyme disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancer are all using animals. Indeed, animal research has contributed to 70% of the Nobel prizes for physiology or medicine; many award-winning scientists say they could not have made their discoveries without animals. Polio would still be claiming hundreds of lives a year in Britain if it was not for animal research by the Nobel laureate Albert Sabin. To quote him, ‘There could have been no oral polio vaccine without the use of innumerable animals’.

The arguments for and against animal experimentation have been voiced time and time again. But it is still difficult to conclusively state whether animal experimentation is morally justifiable or morally unjustifiable and thus whether it should be stopped. I believe that this is due to the fact that man is, by nature, primarily self-centered. People do almost everything to suit their own purposes and though they would feel bad for the animals that are undergoing excruciating pain, they find it hard to condemn the research that has the potential to bring their family, friends and themselves cures for diseases that were otherwise deemed incurable. As such, I believe that the argument as to whether animal experimentation should be stopped will never reach any definitive conclusion until another alternative, which is feasible and can replace all the merits that animal experimentation can provide, is found.

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