Dissection of Animals: Students who Won't Dissect Them
By Dirk Johnson
In the name of scientific enlightenment, biology students have been dissecting animals for generations. For some, the procedure has solved some of the mysteries of life. For others, it was simply disgusting. Either way, it was mandatory.
But a rebellion has been growing in the science laboratories if the nation's schools as a growing number of
students refuse to dissect animals, usually on the ground that it is inhumane.
Many states are now pondering bills that would allow students to complete alternative work in science if they oppose dissection of animals. Such laws have been enacted in California, Florida, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. The Illinois House of Representatives recently passed a similar bill, which is being debated in the State Senate.
Without such a law, students who refuse to dissect animals routinely face sanctions, or lowered grades, from
The issue has become more heated in recent years as more and more young people refuse to eat meat or use
A state court ruled that the school could continue to require dissection of frogs in biology classes, but that
only frogs that died naturally could he used.
Her mother, Pat Davis, runs the anti- dissection telephone line for students. Jonathan Balcombe, an associate director for education at the Humane Society of the United States, said growing unrest over dissection among environmentally conscious American students has forced many schools to offer an alternative.
About six million animals are killed each year for academic inquiry, Mr. Balcombe said. Frogs are used most commonly, but other animals, including cats, fetal pigs, rats and snakes, are also used for such purposes.
"We have a moral obligation not to mistreat animals," Mr. Balcombe said. "We should give them the benefit of
the doubt that they feel pain and suffer."
Mr. Sehoenherg noted that options to animal dissection were offered to school children in Chicago and in many other school districts.
Miss Dixon, the Indianapolis student who objected to dissection, said she had been a vegetarian since she was 9. She said that her decision to oppose dissection of frog initially puzzled her parents, a typist and a construction worker, but that they came to respect her views.
Besides opposing cruelty to animals, Miss Dixon said she opposed the killing of animals on environmental grounds, saying that a meat based farm policy was inefficient because it takes much more land to grow grain, and contributes to deforestation.
After refusing to participate in dissection, Miss Dixon dropped out of her freshman biology class. With the
help of advisers on the anti dissection telephone line, she worked out a solution with her school principal. She will be
allowed to take an environmental class to fulfill her science requirement.
"I don't enjoy it myself," he said. "I'm one of those people who don't care for the sight of blood."