Abolish Animal Research
Twain may be famous for his love of steamboats and jumping
frogs, but some people may not be aware that he was also staunchly
opposed to experiments on animals.
He once wrote the following in a letter to the London Anti-Vivisection Society:
"I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't.
"To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.
"It is so distinctly a matter of feeling with me, and is so strong and so deeply-rooted in my make and constitution, that I am sure I could not even see a vivisector vivisected with anything more than a sort of qualified satisfaction."
Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-92), spoke out against cruelty to animals, especially experimentation upon animals.
In a letter dated July 13, 1891, he wrote: "We owe ourselves the duty not to be brutal or cruel; and we owe to God the duty of treating all His creatures according to His own perfections of love and mercy."
Christian writer C. S. Lewis put forth a rational argument concerning the
resurrection of animals in The Problem of Pain.
His 1947 essay, "A Case for Abolition," attacked vivisection (animal experimentation) and reads as follows:
"Once the old Christian idea of a total difference in kind between man and beast has been abandoned, then no argument for experiments on animals can be found which is not also an argument for experiments on inferior men.
"If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we re backing up our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reason.
"Indeed, experiments on men have already begun. We all hear that Nazi scientists have done them. We all suspect that our own scientists may begin to do so, in secret, at any moment.
"The victory of vivisection marks a great advance in the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law; a triumph in which we, as well as animals, are already the victims, and of which Dachau and Hiroshima mark the more recent achievements.
"In justifying cruelty to animals we put ourselves also on the animal level. We choose the jungle and must abide by our choice."
A Roman Catholic priest, Msgr. LeRoy McWilliams of North Arlington, New
Jersey, testified in October 1962 in favor of legislation to reduce the
sufferings of laboratory animals.
He told congressional representatives:
"The first book of the Bible tell us that God created the animals and the birds, so they have the same Father as we do. God’s Fatherhood extends to our ‘lesser brethren.’ All animals belong to God; He alone is their absolute owner. In our relations with them, we must emulate the divine attributes, the highest of which is mercy. God, their Father and Creator, loves them tenderly. He lends them to us and adjures us to use them as He Himself would do."
Msgr. McWilliams also issued a letter to all seventeen thousand Catholic pastors in the United States, calling upon them to understand "what Christianity imposes on humans as their clear obligation to animals."
Responding to a question about the Kingdom of Peace, Donald Soper of the Church of England was of the opinion that Jesus, unlike his brother James, was neither a teetotaler nor a vegetarian, but, "I think probably, if He were here today, He would be both."
In a 1963 article on "The Question of Vivisection," Soper concluded:
"...let me suggest that Dr. Schweitzer’s great claim that all life should be based on respect for personality has been too narrowly interpreted as being confined entirely to the personality of human beings.
"I believe that this creed ‘respect for personality’ must be applied to the whole of creation. I shouldn’t be surprised if the Buddhists are nearer to an understanding of it than we are.
"When we apply this principle, we shall be facing innumerable problems, but I believe we shall be on the right track which leads finally to the end of violence and the achievement of a just social order which will leave none of God’s creatures out of that Kingdom which it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us."
A growing number of Christian theologians, clergy and activists are
beginning to take a stand in favor of animal rights. In a pamphlet entitled
"Christian Considerations on Laboratory Animals," Reverend Marc Wessels
notes that in laboratories animals cease to be persons and become "tools of
Reverend Wessels cites William French of Loyola University as having made the same observation at a gathering of Christian ethicists at Duke University—a conference entitled "Good News for Animals?"
According to Islamic scholar B.A. Masri, "Many of the experiments that are being done on animals in the name of scientific research and education are not really necessary and are sheer cruelty. Such experiments are a contradiction in terms of the Islamic teachings...According to Islam, all life is sancrosant and has a right to protection and preservation."
Opposition to animal experimentation has a long history.
The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) was founded by Caroline Earle White in 1883...long before People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which was founded in 1980, and even longer than before the current debate over stem-cell research!
In Animal Liberation, Peter Singer writes:
"There has been opposition to experimenting upon animals for a long time. This opposition has made little headway because experimenters, backed by commercial firms that profit by supplying laboratory animals and equipment, have been able to convince legislators and the public that opposition comes from uniformed fanatics who consider the interests of animals more important than the interests of human beings...
"When are experiments on animals justifiable? Upon learning of the nature of many of the experiments carried out, some people react by saying that all experiments on animals should be prohibited immediately.
"But if we make our demands as absolute as this, the experimenters have a ready reply: Would we be prepared to let thousands of humans die if they could be saved by a single experiment on a single animal?
"This question is, of course, purely hypothetical. There has never been and never could be a single experiment that saved thousands of lives.
"The way to reply to this hypothetical question is to pose another: Would the experimenters be prepared to carry out their experiment on a human orphan under six months old if that were the only way to save thousands of lives?...
"(I have specified that the human infant be an orphan, to avoid the complications of the feelings of parents...)
"...If the experimenters would not be prepared to use a human infant, then their readiness to use nonhuman animals reveals an unjustifiable form of discrimination on the basis of species...
"The LD50 tests, the Draize eye tests, the radiation experiments, the heatstroke experiments, and many others that cause suffering to nonhuman animals could have told us more about human reactions to the experimental situation if they had been carried out on severely brain-damaged humans instead of dogs or rabbits.
"So whenever experimenters claim that their experiments are important enough to justify the use of animals, we should ask them whether they would be prepared to use a brain-damaged human being at a mental level similar to that of the animals they are planning to use...
"What difference is there between the two? Only that one is a member of our species and the other is not? But to appeal to that difference is to reveal a bias no more defensible than racism or any other form of arbitrary discrimination."
At the time of the controversy over the Reagan administration's "Baby Doe" rules, Peter Singer wrote in Pediatrics:
"If we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and anything else that can plausibly be considered morally significant."
In his article, "Bridging the Gap," Peter Singer writes:
"Baby Valentina was born in Palermo, Italy, in April 1992. She was an anencephalic -- that is, she was born with all of her brain, except the brain stem, missing.
"This meant that she would never be able to be conscious...or to experience anything at all. Such babies usually die within a few days of birth.
"Valentina's parents, seeking to salvage something out of a birth that was...less than they had expected, offered her as an organ donor.
"Amidst heated public debate, the Italian court ruled that this could not be permitted. to take the hear or any other vital organ from a living human being, even one with nothing more than a brain stem, would also not be allowed in other countries.
"So Baby Valentina died, and her organs could not be used to save any other babies.
"Only two months after the death of Baby Valentina...Dr. Thomas Starzl, a transplant surgeon, removed the liver from a healthy baboon and transplanted it into the heart of a man who was dying from liver disease.
"The baboon, a healthy, sentient, intelligent, responsive animal, was killed immediately after the liver was taken; the patient died about two months later. No court stepped in to prevent the use of a baboon's liver.
"The traditional sanctity-of-life ethic forbids us to kill and take the organs of a human being who is not, and never can be, even minimally conscious; and it maintains this refusal even when the parents of the infant favor the donation of the organs.
"At the same time, this ethic accepts without question that we may rear baboons and chimpanzees in order to kill them and use their organs.
"Why does our ethic draw so sharp a distinction between human beings and all other animals? Why does species membership make such a difference to the ethics of how we may treat a being?"
Admittedly, the case against abortion even on secular human rights grounds is weakened once species membership is no longer the deciding factor.
Since when have pro-lifers feared secular political debate or a growing secular political movement?
The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reports that the following advances in medicine were all made without animal research:
1. Discovery of the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease -- America's No. 1 killer.
2. Discovery of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer and between nutrition and cancer -- the second biggest killer of Americans.
3. Discovery of the relationship between hypertension and stroke -- the No. 3 killer of Americans.
4. Discovery of the causes of trauma, the fourth largest killer of Americans, and the measures to prevent it.
5. Elucidation of the causes of many forms of respiratory disease, America's No. 5 cause of death.
6. Isolation of the AIDS virus.
7. Discovery of the mechanism of AIDS transmission.
8. Discovery of penicillin and its curative effect on various infectious diseases.
9. Development of X-rays.
10. Development of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs.
The PCRM further reports that the use of animals in education, consumer product testing and medical research is ineffective and obsolete. In vitro research, epidemiologic studies, clinical research and computer modeling yield more accurate results.
We know animal tests are poor science. Official figures show that an
astonishing 92 per cent of drugs tested on animals prove to be ineffective
or unsafe for humans.
As renowned pathologist Dr Bruno Fedi points out, "The abolition of vivisection would in no way halt medical progress, just the opposite is the case... No surgeon can gain the least knowledge from experiments on animals, and all the great surgeons of the past and of the present day are in agreement on that."
In the late '90s, K.W. Stallwood, editor of the now-defunct Animals' Agenda was taking readers on a tour of his native England, which has a longer history of animal advocacy and vegetarianism than the United States. Animal activists in the United States look to England as an example of where we might be in twenty to thirty years time.
An editorial in the now-defunct Animals' Agenda from the early '00s, noted
that animal research goes on unquestioned, while debate rages over stem-cell
research, for no other reason than the stem-cells have human chromosomes.
This is speciesism--discrimination on the basis of species... a term which has not caught on or become part of the American vernacular, even among progressives, the way words like "Ms." or "homophobia" have become part of the American lexicon.
Letters to the Animals' Agenda indicate animal issues are now mainstream, and have reached the heartland of America.
Diana Merton of Lake Worth, Florida writes:
"Since humans exploit other species simply because they can, why even bother
constructing a whole smoke screen of rationale? Culture, tradition, and
religion are all forms of acceptable selfishness taught to most at an early
"Unfortunately, the majority of humankind usually adheres to at least one of these to justify collusion and ill treatment toward a victimized animal kingdom.
"The human species is not and never will be superior. Unjustified predation, in the form of biodiversity and other euphemisms to harm other sentient life on the planet, is swiftly destroying the environment, other species, and ourselves. Human arrogation may just catapult us into oblivion.
"I'm kinda looking forward to it."
Donald A. Stilwell of Cuyahoga Falls, Oklahoma, writes:
"Thank you for producing such a great publication. My girlfriend helped convert me to vegetarianism ten months ago and your magazine has helped me a lot..."
In an editorial appearing in the September/October issue 2001 issue of the Animals' Agenda, editor K.W. Stallwood writes:
"It has been interesting to watch President George W. Bush confront the issue of stem-cell research, in his attempt to navigate the broiling waters of politics, science, and ethics.
"On the one side were stem-cell research advocates, including ill and disabled persons, who pin their hopes on the as-yet-unproven theory that such research might lead to miraculous cures.
"On the other side were those who claim that taking stem-cells from human embryos (even those destined to be discarded by fertility clinics) is tantamount to murder because it destroys 'potential human life.'
"In the end, although controversy and debate over the details linger, Bush
chose to allow federal funding for research involving stem-cells already
taken from the original embryos, but will not approve the destruction of
future embryos for the purpose of obtaining stem-cells.
"Private research is not affected; in fact, the nation's largest fertility clinic already has plans to donate fresh stem-cells (from unwanted embryos) to Harvard University...
(This point, that private research and research on already discarded embryonic-stem cells were not prohibited, was brought up in a 2001 phone conversation with my friend Dave Browning [1959 - 2007] in San Diego, a conservative, pro-life Republican, almost apologetic for the George W. Bush administration's opposition to stem-cell research!)
"...Curiously, throughout this very public discussion about science and
ethics, there was mostly silence from the animal rights community, at least
with regard to media and congressional debate.
"No organization (that I heard of) interjected an opinion about whether stem-cell research might ultimately reduce the use of animals in similar research...
"The National Anti-Vivisection Society posted on its website an essay by Ray Greek, MD, explaining how and why stem-cell research might be beneficial, but few other entities had official comments...
"The fact that Bush used a presidential address to make his announcement -- a forum usually reserved for military alerts, or explaining an embarrassing political situation -- testified to the high moral drama.
"Or, to be cynical, it testified to his understanding of how much was at stake for him politically if he offended or disappointed either side...
"Please do not misunderstand me. I am all for the sanctity of human life,
which is why I oppose the death penalty. I am also all for the sanctity of
nonhuman life, which is why I have dedicated my life to animal liberation.
"I simply find it curious that those who wage highly emotional battles over the fate of cell clusters, whose capacity to suffer is seemingly nonexistent, give not a second thought to the ethics of harming millions of thinking, feeling individuals whose very real suffering is discounted because they are not human.
"It seems to me that the abounding evidence that animal research is cruel, wasteful, and unproductive should provide a sufficient foundation for a mass social movement against it in the scientific, ethical and political arenas.
"If the goal is to cure human diseases quickly and efficiently, then
reliance upon the archaic methodologies of animal-based research seem
absurd. Animal experiments have failed to provide cures or even adequate
treatments for many ailments, after decades of research and untold millions
of dollars spent.
"So if there is to be a political mandate for effective cures, that mandate should focus on human-based efforts...
"That said, I am not convinced that stem-cell treatments will be the panacea
for all our ills. There have been initial successes in some areas with this
research, and that is encouraging.
"If stem-cells do turn out to be the key to unlocking medical mysteries, then they may also be the key to unlocking many laboratory cages.
"But in the meantime, animal advocates should learn from this political exchange and not hesitate to join the fray. If ethics are to be factored into decisions about science and the federal funding of research, then anti-vivisectionists should stand up and demand to be heard just as much as the pro-lifers.
"Politicians should be made aware that animal rights advocates are among their constituents, and that they must answer to them as much (and as often) as any other interest group.
"If the rights of cells and embryos are to be weighed against the rights of the ill and disabled, then the rights of animals should be factored in as well."
A pamphlet from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, entitled Replacing Animals in Research, says:
"Animal experiments are every bit as hard on animals as you may have
imagined. Before an experiment even begins, animals have already undergone
the stresses of being loaded and shipped, often over very long distances.
"Most are confined in cramped cages, deprived of movement and the normal social interactions that are essential to their psychological well-being.
"Virtually all are killed, often after undergoing painful procedures. Even 'routine' manipulations -- forced feedings, blood draws, and physical restraint -- are extremely stressful. In the typical laboratory environment, there is no such thing as a humane experiment.
"Animal protection laws do not cover most of the estimated twenty million animals used in U.S. laboratories and provide only paltry protection for the remainder.
"Animal 'safety tests' of new drugs are notoriously unreliable. The U.S. General Accounting Office reported that, of 198 new drugs marketed during a ten-year period, the majority had dangers that animal tests missed.
"Specifically, of all the drugs that passed animal tests and were approved for human use, 52 percent caused fatalities or serious unanticipated adverse effects in humans.
"The Fen-Phen weight loss drug combination, the diabetes drug Rezulin, and many others passed animal tests only to cause serious risks for human patients.
"Each animal species has its own set of enzyme systems, hormone systems, and
other complex biological mechanisms that may differ from those of others.
For example, nonhuman animals are better able to resist the effects of
"In fact, inhaled smoke does not cause cancer in dogs, rabbits, or other animals, a fact used to the advantage of the tobacco industry in its 1960s battles to block laws calling for warning labels on cigarette packs. Similarly, arsenic is a potent human carcinogen, but does not cause cancer in animals.
"To test whether a drug or other chemical causes cancer in animals costs millions of dollars and takes many years.
"Modern cell tests are much faster and cheaper. They work by checking a chemical's tendency to cause the mutations that lead to cancer or to promote cancer growth.
"The MEIC (Multicenter Evaluation of In-Vitro Cytotoxicity) test battery uses human cells to determine the safety of chemical products. Of course, no method is perfect. But compared to mouse and rat lethal-dose tests, which are about 65 percent accurate, the MEIC tests raise this figure to 80 percent, using no animals at all.
"We can now track down the causes of birth defects in human populations. We
are unlocking the secrets of the human genome, identifying the genes
responsible for many diseases.
"And scanning devices allow us to look into the human body in ways that were impossible until recently.
"While some researchers were busy feeding artery-clogging fats to monkeys or other animals in vain efforts to create a 'model' of human heart disease, the Framingham Heart Study identified the risk factors for heart disease in human populations.
"After this landmark study implicated cholesterol, smoking, hypertension and
other risk factors, clinics began routinely tracking different types of
cholesterol in human patients and testing the benefits of diet and lifestyle
change. Autopsy studies showed how common heart disease is and how it
"This same process -- tracking down causes, testing preventative strategies, and measuring relevant compounds in human blood -- is yielding new and effective approaches for cancer and other serious conditions.
"Some AIDS researchers have focused their efforts on trying to cause AIDS in chimpanzees or other animals, with dismal results. Now, however, researchers focus on how the AIDS virus enters the human blood cell, how it replicates, and how to stop it.
"Until recently, cancer chemotherapy drugs were routinely screened in tests using mice who had leukemia, a form of blood cancer. However, it soon became clear that tests on human cancer cells give far more accurate results, and the National Cancer Institute replaced the mice with tests using human cancer cell lines.
"Experimenters who continue to use animals may be delaying cures for human diseases, because they are working with the wrong species.
"Many animal experiments are funded by health charities that depend on public support. Let them know you object to their using donations in this way. Contact PCRM for a list of charities that do and do not fund animal research.
"If you are a student, you have the right to an education free of animal
abuse. Contact PCRM for a list of alternatives."
John J. Pippin writes:
"There are many things wrong with the use of intimidation and violence in the critical debate over animal research. In addition to being anathema in our society, such tactics obscure important issues regarding animal experiments and human health.
"I am a cardiologist and a former animal researcher. I stopped experimenting on animals after I came to doubt the medical value of such research.
"Today, a growing number of physicians, scientists and scientific agencies believe that moving to non-animal research and testing methods is critical to advancing human health.
"Numerous reports confirm very poor correlations between animal research results and human results, and the research breakthroughs so optimistically reported in the media almost always fail in humans.
"Examples abound. Every one of 197 human trials using 85 HIV/AIDS vaccines tested in animals has failed. More than 150 human stroke trials using treatments successful in animals have failed, as have at least two dozen animal diabetes cures.
"Vioxx was tested successfully in eight studies using six animal species, yet this anti-inflammatory medication may have caused the deaths of more Americans than the Vietnam War.
"The monoclonal antibody TGN 1412 was safe in monkeys at 500 times the dose tested in humans, yet all six British volunteers who received the drug in 2006 nearly died.
"Conversely, simple aspirin produces birth defects in at least seven animal species, yet is safe in human pregnancy. When even identical human twins have different disease susceptibilities, how can we think answers will be found in mice or monkeys?
"The National Cancer Institute now uses panels of human cells and tissues to test treatments for cancer and HIV/AIDS, and to detect drug toxicities. And the National Research Council now recommends replacing animal toxicity testing with in vitro methods.
"I can attest that animal research is inherently cruel. Animal protection laws do not mitigate this reality. Whether the debate involves humane issues or human benefits, the evidence confirms the need to replace animal experiments with more accurate human-specific methods. That's the best way to make progress and improve health."
---John J. Pippin is a senior medical and research adviser with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
"In the debate about the rights of the unborn, we are asked to broaden the circle of our moral concern..."
---President George W. Bush, November 5, 2003
President Bush's words are also the language of animal rights. Animal
rights activists also speak of expanding our sphere of moral concern to
encompass an excluded class of beings. British author
John Wynne-Tyson wrote a book in the '70s on animal
rights/vegetarianism entitled The Extended Circle.
This suggests that prenatal rights, like the rights of blacks, women, LGBTs, children, animals, etc. really are a progressive cause.
There IS a natural tendency to think in terms of our own anthropomorphic prejudices.
Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1917 - 1977) said of the unborn, "These are still our children. And we still love these children. And after these babies are born we are not going to disband these children from their families, because these are other lives, they are... and I think these children have a right to live. And I think these mothers have a right to support them in a decent way."
Ingrid Newkirk, Executive Director of PETA, similarly observed:
"If a building were burning and a baby baboon, a baby rat, and a baby child were inside, I'm sure I would save the child. But if the baboon mother went into the building, I'm sure she would take out the infant baboon.
"It's just that there is an instinct to save yourself first, then your immediate family, your countrymen, and on to your species. But we have to recognize and reject the self-interest that erects these barriers and try to recognize the rights of others who happen not to be exactly like ourselves."
There's the situation ethics question: if two buildings were burning, and your spouse was in one of the buildings, while a hundred strangers were in the other building, and you could only get to one of the buildings in time, who would you rescue?
Obviously, you'd choose to rescue your spouse!
But should our secular laws be based on our personal prejudices?
Social progress in the past centuries has been based upon this kind of anthropomorphic thinking. "All men are created equal" once referred only to white, male property owners. It has since been expanded to include women and minorities.
The animal rights movement challenges this anthropomorphic thinking by taking it one step further: Why should our concept of ethics and rights end with the human species?
At the end of the '90s, I commented to my friend Anantarupa dasa that I'd hoped nearly a decade earlier that animal rights would be the cause celebre of the 1990s.
Instead, with the debate over LGBTs being allowed to serve openly in the military, Ellen DeGeneres outing herself on national television, etc., LGBT rights were becoming the issue.
Peter Singer himself writes in Animal Liberation:
"We have to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. You can appreciate how serious this handicap is by asking yourself how long blacks would have had to wait for equal rights if they had not been able to stand up for themselves and demand it. The less able a group is to stand up and organize against oppression, the more easily it is oppressed."
As a political liberal, of course I support LGBT rights! But LGBTs are quite capable of organizing, resisting, and standing up against oppression. Animals and the unborn are not.
In the debate about the rights of the unborn, we are asked to broaden the circle of our moral concern..."
---President George W. Bush, November 5, 2003
President Bush's words are also the language of animal rights. Animal rights
activists also speak of expanding our sphere of moral concern to encompass
an excluded class of beings. British author John Wynne-Tyson wrote a
book in the '70s on animal rights/vegetarianism entitled The Extended
This suggests that prenatal rights, like the rights of blacks, women, LGBTs, children, animals, etc. really are a progressive cause.
In his introduction to In Defense of Animals: the Second Wave (2006), Peter Singer writes:
"The only argument I've come across that looks like a defense of speciesism itself is the claim that just as parents have a special obligation to care for their own children in preference to the children of strangers, so we have a special obligation to other members of our species in preference to members of other species.
"Advocates of this position usually pass in silence over the obvious case that lies between the family and the species...if the argument works for both the narrower circle of family and friends, and the wider sphere of the species, it should also work for the middle case: race.
"But an argument that supported preferring the interests of members of our own race over those of members of other races would receive a hostile reaction from most people, who are not racists.
"Yet if the argument doesn't lead to the conclusion that race is a morally relevant boundary, how can it show that species is?"
Do human zygotes, embryos, and fetuses have the same moral status, personhood, or rights as infants and toddlers?
THE BIBLE SUPPORTS ABORTION RIGHTS. PRO-LIFERS MUST BECOME SECULAR.
Genesis 38:24. Tamar's pregnancy was discovered three months after conception, presumably because it was visible at the time.
This was proof that she was sexually active. Because she was a widow, without a husband, she was assumed to be a prostitute. Her father-in-law, Judah, ordered that she be burned alive for her crime.
If Tamar's fetuses had been considered to have any value whatsoever, her execution would have been delayed until after their birth.
There was no condemnation on Judah for deciding to take this action.
Exodus 21:22-24. If two men are fighting and one injures a pregnant woman and the fetus is killed, he shall repay her according to the degree of injury inflicted upon her, and not the fetus.
Author Brian McKinley, a born-again Christian, sums up the passage as:
"Thus we can see that if the baby is lost, it does not require a death sentence-it is not considered murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and is punished by death."
Halacha (Jewish Law) does define when a fetus becomes a nephesh (person), a full-fledged human being, when the head emerges from the womb.
The Babylonian Talmud (Yevamot 69b) states that: "the embryo is considered to be mere water until the fortieth day." Afterward, it is considered subhuman until it is born.
Rashi, the great 12th century commentator on the Bible and the Talmud, states clearly of the fetus 'lav nephesh hu -- it is not a person.'
The Talmud contains the expression, "the thigh of its mother," i.e., the fetus is deemed to be part and parcel of the pregnant woman's body.
This is grounded in Exodus 21:22. That biblical passage outlines the Mosaic Law in a case where a man is responsible for causing a woman's miscarriage, which kills the fetus.
If the woman survives, then the perpetrator has to pay a fine to the woman's husband. If the woman is killed, the perpetrator is also killed.
This indicates that the fetus has value, but does not have the status of a person.
Some Jewish authorities have ruled in specific cases. one case involved a woman who becomes pregnant while nursing a child. Her milk supply would dry up. If the child is allergic to all other forms of nutrition except mother's milk, then it would starve.
An abortion would be permitted in this case, a potential person, would be justified to save the life of the child, an actual person.
Polls have found up to 90% of American Jews supporting abortion rights.
The New Testament is more permissive than the Old Testament!
In the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly upheld the Law (Matthew 5:17-19; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 16:17), as did his apostles (see chapters 10, 15, and 21 of Acts). But Paul referred to his previous adherence to the Law as "so much garbage," and if Paul's gospel displaces Jesus' gospel (and any meager concern shown to the unborn in the Old Testament), then Christians have no Scriptural basis for opposing abortion.
Some pro-life Christians go a step further and claim they don't even have to follow the moral instructions Paul gives throughout his epistles, because Paul claims the risen Jesus said to him three times, "...my grace is sufficient for thee..."
...and pro-life Christians take this as a license to do as they please.
If their view prevails, what basis do pro-life Christians have for opposing abortion?
Do human zygotes, embryos, and fetuses have the same moral status, personhood, or rights as infants and toddlers?
One popular argument against the recognizing the potential sentience of a member of a sentient species, genetically distinct from either parent, even at an insentient stage of development, is that if we recognize potential sentience as a basis for rights, we must then oppose all forms of contraception and perhaps even sexual abstinence, since this also means the destruction of potentially sentient life.
Sperm and egg, like saliva and other bodily excretions, are genetically
identical to male and female respectively, while a newly formed zygote is
genetically distinct from both parents.
There is no environment anywhere in which an individual sperm or an egg cell could be placed and made to grow into an embryo, infant, etc…
Doing so would be as absurd as placing a nonfertile egg into an incubator
and expecting a chicken to hatch! Eating a fertile chicken egg effectively
kills a chicken. Similar reasoning prompted the federal government to enact
a law imposing a $5,000 fine for destroying any fertilized bald eagle egg.
"Is birth control an abortion?"
"Definitely not. An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun."
---Planned Parenthood pamphlet
While there may be religious reasons to oppose masturbation, contraception, oral sex, divorce, fornication, homosexuality, etc…there are no rational, secular arguments against such practices.
Similarly, the argument that any cell from one’s body is potentially sentient, since it may be cloned, is subject to the same kind of scrutiny and reasoning.
Only after an ordinary cell has been prepared for cloning and is starting to
develop could one make use of arguments involving development and potential
sentience to call for its protection.
Before preparation for cloning, such an ordinary cell is morally equivalent to sperm or egg before fertilization.
To be fair: author William Saletan, who served in the Clinton Administration, and writes of a "pro-choice majority," notes in his 2003 book, Bearing Right: How (pro-choice) Conservatives Won the Abortion War, that the debate over embryonic stem cell research: humans in their earliest stages of development, existing outside of and apart from female bodies.....shows that pro-lifers really do care about the unborn, and are not religious fanatics out to "punish" girls and women for having sex outside of marriage, nor invade their privacy, nor deny them their civil liberties.
Louis Shapiro (Shapiro is a Jewish name, but he's Catholic) reported on the Democrats For Life email list in 2008:
...an undercover investigation by the pro-life group Life Dynamics in 2002
found that many abortion businesses were willing to help conceal sexual
A Life Dynamics staff member called abortion businesses around the country, posing as a pregnant 13-year-old girl with a 22-year-old "boyfriend."
According to transcripts of the calls published by Life Dynamics, staffers at many abortion clinics told the girl to conceal her age and details of the case or gave her tips about how to circumvent authorities in order to obtain an abortion so her parents would not have to know of the sexual relationship.
Parental notification and parental consent legislation are intended to prevent statutory rape: underage girls being taken across state lines by their adult partners for abortions to hide the crime of sex with a minor.
They are also intended to reduce the number of abortions, assuming parents will want their minor daughters to keep the child.
But William Saletan notes parental notification and parental consent legislation can have the opposite of its intended effect. In the case of an underage girl wanting to keep her baby, but her parents wanting her to have an abortion, guess who decides?
In an interview with Penthouse Forum in the late '70s, Reverend Jesse
Jackson said he approved of the backseat blowjob scene in which a young
couple have gotten hot and heavy, but don't have any "protection" or
contraception on them, so the guy says to the girl, "Then blow me!"
Reverend Jackson said he approved of that scene, because it showed young people what to do if they want sexual intercourse, but don't have immediate access to contraception.
On the other hand, journalist Robert Scheer interviewed presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in Playboy magazine in 1980.
Reagan opposed the idea of high school clinics dispensing contraception to young people, saying it interferes with the family.
When asked, wouldn't that reduce the demand for abortions you're so concerned about?
Reagan said, "Whatever happened to saying, 'no'?"
The directly relevant issues of privacy and civil liberties occur in issues other than contraception and abortion.
In his 1992 book, Visions of Liberty, former Executive Director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser writes:
"The use of wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping emerged during the
Prohibition era. Roy Olmstead was a suspected bootlegger whom the government
wished to search. It placed taps in the basement of his office building and
on wires in the streets near his home. No physical entry into his office or
home took place. Olmstead was convicted entirely on the basis of evidence
from the wiretaps.
"In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Olmstead argued that the taps were a search conducted without a warrant and without probable cause, and that the evidence seized against him should have been excluded because it was illegally gathered. He also argued that his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself was violated.
"By a 5-4 vote, the Court rejected his arguments and upheld the government's power to wiretap without limit and without any Fourth Amendment restrictions, on the grounds that no actual physical intrusion had taken place.
"Olmstead's Fifth Amendment claim was also dismissed on the grounds that he had not been compelled to talk on the telephone, but had done so voluntarily.
"Thus the Court upheld the government's power to do by trickery and
surreptitious means what it was not permitted to do honestly and openly.
"It wasn't until 1967, in a similar case involving gambling, that the Court overruled the Olmstead decision by an 8-1 margin and recognized that the Fourth Amendment applied to wiretapping and electronic surveillance."
"I don't want you to hear me pee..."
"Nor has electronic surveillance been the only source of our loss of privacy," writes Ira Glasser in his 1992 book Visions of Liberty. "The widespread use of urine-testing in employment to see whether people may have been using illegal substances violates the rights of many innocent people.
"Urine-testing programs are usually not restricted to those who show evidence of impaired job performance that may be due to the use of drugs. These tests are normally administered randomly. Without any probable cause for search, this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
"Many of these random tests have been struck down by the courts, where the government is the employer. But some have been upheld. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (hardly a Constitutional liberal!), denounced them as 'an immolation of privacy and human dignity in symbolic opposition to drug use.'"
And Ira Glasser writes in Visions of Liberty:
"The other major use of electronic eavesdropping has been to punish political dissent. For decades, former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover used wiretaps and other electronic devices to spy on political figures and citizens not yet suspected of having committed a crime.
"He built vast dossiers on their political activities and personal lives. Special units of local police called 'Red Squads' did the same."
(When I was younger, I contributed $1,008 to the ACLU Foundation, not because I've suddenly become a huge fan of partial-birth abortions, but because having lived unwillingly under electronic surveillance, like a political prisoner, with persons around me wired for sound, and my past probed to a degree no real life political or religious figure has had to endure, it's my conviction we have a right to privacy.)
I think rape is a fairly accurate word to describe an electronic invasion of privacy (e.g., Erin Andrews), whether it happens in the bedroom and/or bathroom, whether it happens to a minor or an adult, and whether the victim happens to be female or male.
The abortion debate focuses on the personhood or moral status of the unborn...
...which is weakened when species membership is no longer the deciding factor -- if it ever was! When this country was founded, blacks were three-fifths of a person, women were the property of their husbands, Native Americans were killed for "sport."
Personhood never encompassed the entire human species -- consider the endless debates over abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, war, etc.). Why, then, should personhood end with the human species?
Apart from personhood, the abortion debate focuses on the extent of individual and/or marital privacy.
Can we protect human zygotes and embryos without violating a new mother's privacy and civil liberties?
The directly related issues of privacy and civil liberties occur in issues other than contraception and abortion. In his 1992 book Visions of Liberty, Ira Glasser, former Executive Director of the ACLU, points out that electronic surveillance technology was developed during the Prohibition era, and was used in the 1960s to target gambling.
But even pro-lifers (conservative pro-lifers, anyway), unlike Paris Hilton and/or Kim Kardashian with their sex tapes, demandprivacy for themselves when they pee, defecate, copulate, engage in fellatio, masturbate, etc... and ridicule the "privacy" argument used to justify abortion.
Calvin Freiburger on the Live Action News blog writes, "Privacy: the dumbest argument for legal abortion."
(Will Calvin Freiburger consent to living under electronic surveillance?)
Conservatives claim the right to privacy (e.g., Griswold v. Connecticut and the subsequent Supreme Court decisions on individual and/or marital privacy) is only an *implied* right, not clearly spelled out in the Constitution...
...which only protects us against unwarranted search and seizure (Fourth Amendment), e.g. going through one's personal belongings, like one's diary, one's record of memorable quotes, one's porn, etc. and broadcasting them everywhere, and/or making them public (even before the Internet!).
At a Respect Life conference several years ago, I asked Kristan Hawkins of Students For Life if Roe v. Wade could be overturned without overturning Griswold v. Connecticut as well.
She gave me a confusing answer, first talk about chastity, and then saying Griswold is "settled law."
But that's what Justice John Roberts said about Roe v. Wade, too!Whether or not Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned is debatable, especially when Justice John Roberts refers to Roe as "settled law."
Most Americans are neither pro-life nor pro-choice. American public opinion falls somewhere in the middle. We see those on the pro-choice side opposing even reasonable restrictions on abortion.
For example: our laws require parental notification or consent if minors want tattoos or pierced ears; why should abortion be exempt?
The decision to take a life is very grave, so why is it unreasonable to require a 24 hour waiting period, to give a new mother time to think things through, rather than make a decision in haste?
The pro-choice rhetoric that women are capable of deciding for themselves whether or not to carry a child to term means they ought to be able to make informed choices. The informed consent or “women’s right to know” laws advocated by pro-lifers are consistent with pro-choice rhetoric.
Even many on the pro-choice side are uncomfortable with abortion during the later stages of pregnancy, yet they are often reluctant to support a ban on partial-birth abortion: a procedure which is never medically “necessary,” and which former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan likened to infanticide.
In Guerilla Apologetics for Life Issues, Paul Nowak points out that Planned
Parenthood opposes even reasonable restrictions upon abortion, such as 24
hour waiting periods, parental notification, informed consent or “women’s
right to know” laws, etc.
Nowak writes: “Planned Parenthood opposes clinic regulations, despite the fact that in many states there are more restrictions on veterinary clinics than self-regulated abortion facilities.”
Since the goal of the pro-choice movement is to “keep abortion safe and legal,” why does Planned Parenthood oppose clinic regulations?
Parental notification and parental consent legislation is legitimate, with
or without Roe v. Wade being overturned. Whether or not it will succeed is
debatable. California, like Oregon and Washington, is a blue state.
In 2008, Proposition 2, intended to remedy some of the worst abuses of factory farming, passed by a significant majority, whereas parental notification measures on abortion have failed 3 - 4 times already.
The number of animals killed for food in the United States is nearly 75 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.
And issues like animal experimentation, circuses, fur, etc. have nothing to
do with diet, eating, or food. The issue clearly IS the animals' right to
If the issue were merely "dietary laws," why would pro-lifers be offended by pro-choice vegetarians and vegans, unless its understood people go veg for the animals' right to life, and thus these people appear to value animal life over human life under some circumstances?
Why would pro-lifers joke if it's wrong to kill plants, unless it's understood people go veg because they believe it's wrong to kill animals?
Why would pro-lifers bring up the thoroughly debunked myth that Hitler was a "vegetarian"...if not to discredit vegetarianism as a nonviolent philosophy toward humans and animals alike?
Read The Scientific Vs The Cruelty Argument
Since government sponsored animal experimentation (vivisection) first reared its ugly head over one hundred years ago, the people who perpetuate this fraud have managed to convince the public that vivisection is necessary and, indeed, vital to human health and survival.
They further insist that their experiments on animals are conducted by compassionate scientists who are kind in the treatment of their subjects which they are forced to “sacrifice” for the good of mankind.
Although no “cures” from any disease has ever materialized from a vivisector’s laboratory, the public inexplicably continues to believe their lies.
For almost as long as vivisection has existed so have people who have decried animal experimentation as cruel and immoral. Their protests through the years have fallen on deaf ears as vivisection has grown exponentially.
When Hans Ruesch published his scrupulously researched books SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENT and NAKED EMPRESS, he offered positive proof that experiments on animals cannot be extrapolated to humans and is nothing but a trillion dollar industry perpetuated by the petrochemical / pharmaceutical industry.
One would assume that with clear evidence of the fraud of vivisection and proof of the harm caused to HUMANS, “animal rights” groups would eagerly use this “ammunition” in the fight against vivisection.
One would think that “animal rights” groups would say to themselves---“Imagine!! No cure has ever come from torturing animals and never will! When the public finds this out vivisection will end!!
Unfathomably, most “animal rights” groups and anti-vivisection organizations have heard the truth and have decided to largely ignore it. They have received the information in the form of books, pamphlets, documentary films and from the mouths of enlightened doctors and scientists.
In spite of learning the facts regarding the scientific argument against vivisection these groups continue to focus on the tried and true, catastrophically unsuccessful, MORAL argument; animal experimentation is cruel, great philosophers in history have spoken out against it, animals have the same rights as humans, etc.
A handful of groups including The Nature of Wellness and People for Reason in Science and Medicine (PRISM) understand the scientific argument and, with enthusiastic optimism, have done everything in their power with limited resources to inform the public of the facts.
The leaders and members of these groups were shocked and bewildered by the attitudes of national, high-profile animal rights groups who not only refused to use the scientific argument but attacked the groups that were, calling them “wacky extremists” for telling the truth.
Furthermore, many animal rights adherents know or care nothing about human health. They seldom mention that junk food, tobacco, alcohol, drugs and chronic stress are the primary causes of the diseases for which millions of animals are being uselessly vivisected.
In the past few years groups like Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have offered up the scientific futility of vivisection while continuing to focus its A-V campaign on the cruelty issue.
Another very large animal welfare group, having access to accurate scientific information, not only continues to focus on the cruelty issue but equivocates regarding the usefulness of vivisection.
For many years they have sent out a questionnaire to potential donors asking the question, “What would you think if you found out MOST animal experimentation is useless?” clearly implying that SOME vivisection is useful. For whatever reason they cannot bring themselves to admit that it is not.
Humans have a natural fear of terminal disease and death. They cling to promises of cures coming out of vivisectors’ laboratories that will save their lives and those of their loved ones.
Even Mary Tyler Moore, who purports to dearly love animals and helps homeless animals, raises money for vivisection because of her own affliction, diabetes.
Like her, the majority of people who love animals will turn a blind eye to the grim reality of vivisection because they think they will give up all hope of cures should vivisection end.
It is stunningly OBVIOUS to any thinking person that people who believe vivisection will save their lives NEED to be told the facts---that drugs do not and cannot heal disease, that a plant-based, nutritionally sound diet creates a healthy body, that toxins need to be eliminated from our air, food and water and if we do become ill we need to employ everything possible to strengthen our immune systems since that is where healing takes place.
We have to take responsibility for our own health and not depend on toxic drugs and procedures touted by the religion of modern medicine and its high priests in white coats.
People need to replace a faulty belief system with one that REALLY works for them. Only then will they be willing to stop clinging desperately to hopes for a cure coming out of a vivisector’s laboratory.
The intransigence of animal and A-V groups in refusing to focus on the scientific argument continues to be completely baffling---Why wouldn’t they WANT to use the most potent ammunition we have?
Is it fear of standing up to the petrochemical/pharmaceutical industry? Do they think donations would fall off if members took offense at being told magic cures do not exist? Do the leaders of these groups THEMSELVES actually believe vivisection works?
Are they afraid to debate vivisectors because they feel intimidated by people in white lab coats who claim to be “scientists”?
We have no way of knowing the answers to these questions. In questioning the spokespeople of animal groups who reject the scientific argument and cling to the failed moral and philosophical ones their responses are always evasive, nebulous, defensive and angry.
All we know for sure is that they choose to do what Einstein said is the definition of insanity “...doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
PRISM, however, chooses to disseminate the facts. And if animal welfare groups and AV groups truly want to end vivisection, they will have to do the same. If all of us, including environmental organizations, worked together to expose vivisection as a fraud, it could not survive.
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