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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
6 December 2000 Issue

THE CHIMP BILL:
A STATEMENT FROM GAP
from GAP (Great Ape Project)

As you know from previous messages, GAP supported the original version of H.R. 3514, known as the CHIMP bill. This proposed U.S. federal legislation would establish a government-funded sanctuary for those chimpanzees which the biomedical establishment designates as "surplus."

GAP's support was based on the fact that the proposed legislation stated unequivocally that no chimpanzee who entered this sanctuary could ever again be subjected to biomedical experimentation.

On October 24, the bill was amended to change this pivotal feature, allowing chimps in the sanctuary to be brought back into experimentation if certain conditions exist. The amended bill then passed the House of Representatives. The Senate has not yet been presented with an amended version of this legislation.

GAP does not support the amended version of the CHIMP bill. The choice here is not an easy one, and people of unassailable principles have come down on both sides. Some major supporters of GAP choose to support the amended bill (Jane Goodall, Marc Bekoff, Steve Wise), arguing that the sanctuary should be created and then we should fight with all our might if someone attempts to remove a "retired" chimpanzee. Other original signatories of the Declaration on Great Apes and authors of articles in the book that launched The Great Ape Project, such as Roger Fouts and Gary Francione, oppose the amended version of the bill, arguing that the amended version is too serious a compromise and the language of the amended version which attempts to limit when a chimpanzee can be put back into experimentation will never be effective.

GAP's decision not to support the amended version of the bill is based on our commitment to achieve three basic rights or protections for chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas: protection of their right to life, protection of their liberty, and protection of them from torture.

Admittedly, opposition to the bill has risks, for without the nauseating amendment the entire sanctuary proposal would almost certainly fail. This is a tragic consequence. But we cannot in good conscience support any legislation that allows the possibility of future experiments.

We will continue to work for changes in law and cultural values that will allow all great apes to live in a world where humans protect their lives, do not hold them as captives, and do not use them as experimental tools.

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