involved in animal research. How strange, for I have never thought of
myself as an evil person. I became a pediatrician because of my love for
children and my desire to keep them healthy. During medical I school and
residency, however, I saw many children die of leukemia, prematurity and
traumatic injury—circumstances against which medicine has made
tremendous progress, but still has far to go. More important; I also saw
children, alive and healthy, thanks to advances in medical science such as
infant respirators, potent antibiotics, new surgical techniques and the
entire field of organ transplantation. My desire to tip the scales in favor of
the healthy, happy children drew me to medical research.
My accusers claim that I inflict torture on animals for the sole purpose of
career advancement. My experiments supposedly have no relevance to
medicine and are easily replaced by computer simulation. Meanwhile, an
apathetic public barely watches, convinced that the issue has no
significance, and publicity-conscious politicians increasingly give way to
the demands of the activists.
We in medical research have also been unconscionably apathetic. We have
allowed the most extreme animal-rights protesters to seize the initiative
and frame the issue as one of "animal fraud." We have been complacent
in our belief that a knowledgeable public would sense the importance of
animal research to the public health. Perhaps we have been mistaken in
not responding to the emotional tone of the argument created by those
sad posters of animals by waving equally sad posters of children dying of
leukemia or cystic fibrosis.
Much is made of the pain inflicted on these animals in the name of
... middle of paper ...
... a doctor who
has watched many children die, and their parents grieve, I am particularly
angered by people capable of so much compassion for a dog or a cat, but
with seemingly so little for a dying human being. These people seem so
insulated from the reality of human life and death and what it means.
Make no mistake, however: I am not advocating the needlessly cruel
treatment of animals. To the extent that the animal-rights movement has
made us more aware of the needs of these animals, and made us search
harder for suitable alternatives, they have made a significant contribution.
But if the more radical members of this movement are successful in
limiting further research, their efforts will bring about a tragedy that will
cost many lives. The real question is whether an apathetic majority can be
aroused to protect its future against a vocal, but misdirected, minority.
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