My first experience as an “animal rights activist,” although there was no such term at the time, came several weeks into my sophomore year in high school. It was biology class and Mr. Donovan told us that the following week we were going to do a frog dissection. I remember hearing that announcement and feeling that I was going to vomit. The thought of dissecting a frog or anything else did not sit well with me.
I had spent many summers in Shandaken, NY with my grandmother. Most of that time was consumed by playing in the Esopus River. And a fair amount of that time was trying to catch bull frogs who were more elusive than I would have thought and watching their tadpole offspring swim near the shore. Although I caught any number of frogs I never brought them back to our cabin. After all, to my way of thinking, they had their tadpole kids to take care of.
After Mr. Donovan dropped this bomb in class, I debated what to do. I knew that what I was not going to do was the dissection. But before I did anything, I wanted to discuss this matter with my folks. That was the subject of that evening’s dinner. My parents advised me to speak with Mr. Donovan and explain my feelings, which I did.
Mr. Donovan was an MIT grad and a wonderful teacher. He was an extremely heavyset man who was able to perspire on the coldest winter day but that never impeded his sense of humor or his attitude that making his subject “fun” would enable his students to become more interested in it. And he was kind enough to listen to me and to excuse me from this exercise with the proviso that he would assign me as a “lab partner” to one of the other students and I would have to observe their dissection. That seemed a reasonable compromise and I accepted his offer with gratitude.
When I finished college, one day an envelope was in my mailbox from an organization called, NAVS – the National Anti-Vivisection Society. I read with a mixture of interest and horror about the experiments that were routinely conducted on laboratory animals. Typically mice, rats and rabbits were the subjects of a variety of experiments, all of which were justified in the name of science and improving the lives of humans by developing new drugs which could combat human disease. After reading the NAVS letter, I decided to become a Life Member but had to set the letter aside long enough for me to save up the hundred dollars to join at that level.
One of the tests which was routinely used was known as the LD-50. “LD” stood for Lethal Dose – and the 50 referred to the concentration of a specific drug which, when administered to the animal subjects, resulted in only fifty percent of the subjects dying from the dosage. That impressed me as barbarism at its fundamental level – irrespective of the purported good which these experiments were supposedly going to bring to humanity.
Other tests, primarily conducted on rabbits, involved putting drops in their eyes which typically would cause blindness. There was no greater reason for the administration of these drugs than the development of cosmetics. Somehow, blinding hundreds of thousands of bunnies so that we could develop new eye liners or blush was construed by those in the vanity business of cosmetics as sufficient justification for these acts of torture. Thinking about this made me nauseous.
One of the basic premises of animal experimentation by researchers is that there is a trans-special relevance to the results that are obtained. In other words, if there is “X” effect in rabbits there will be “X” effect in humans. One of the drugs that was deemed safe was Thalidomide – manufactured by a West German pharmaceutical company. It was extensively tested on rabbits and since it was virtually impossible to obtain the LD-50 level, it was deemed safe for humans. Typically, it was prescribed for pregnant women to reduce the effects of morning sickness and as a mild sedative.
Thalidomide has since been described as “the worst disaster in pharmaceutical research.” More than 10,000 children worldwide were born with serious birth defects including missing limbs as a result of their mothers’ taking this “safe” drug. That was back in the late ‘50’s and early 60’s. Subsequently, the FDA pulled its approval of the drug for use by pregnant women.
Thanks to high schools and medical schools there is a market for animal specimens. For a mere $140 you can buy a preserved dog from Carolina Biological Supply Company (shipping included). Presumably this will benefit those who go into veterinary medicine. Notwithstanding, the photo below from the company’s list of products is disturbing to me. In fact it makes my high school experience with frog dissection pale in comparison.
That there is a huge market for animal subjects for research is an undeniable fact. And with the recent exposure of two separate Planned Parenthood’s doctors discussing how much it would cost for human fetal organs – well, should we be surprised? But what should amaze is that when Hollywooders like Brad Pitt come out opposing the horrible conditions under which factory farm laying hens are kept they haven’t said a peep about PPF’s sale of human tissue. And the silence is similarly deafening by those on the left who have no use whatever for business executives who make beaucoup bucks, hundreds or thousands of times the amount that the average Jane makes working for the same operation.
Enter Cecile Richards, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood. Up until a few days ago you might not have heard of her. But she has made the news by responding to the two videos of the undercover interviews with two of her staff doctors. In essence, Ms. Richards claimed in response to the first video, that the fees for human body parts which Dr. Deborah Nucatola was discussing were merely “reimbursements” for the cost of shipping those specimens. The second video suggests that narrative may lack some credibility.
What has yet to be brought up is that Ms. Richards received compensation for Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year ending June, 2013 in the amount of $523,616 according to IRS Form 990 which this “Not For Profit” organization filed. So much for the glass ceiling to which American women are subjected. And the year before, Ms. Richards earned $583,323. Why the pay reduction? That’s because Ms. Richards took time off from her duties at PP to campaign for President Obama’s re-election.
During the latter fiscal year, Planned Parenthood performed 333,369 reported abortions as part of their service to their female clients. That represents nearly thirty percent of all abortions performed in the United States. Or to put it another way, each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood resulted in $1.57 per head (yes, I used that term purposely) in the way of compensation to Ms. Richards.
When I was a kid I often heard that if you were to take a fully grown human and reduce that person’s body to the base elements and chemicals of which it was composed, the value of those would amount to $.98. So I guess that if you take an unborn 18 or 20 week old baby and slice and dice it up for a couple of hundred dollars – well I guess we’ll just attribute that to inflation – and lack of conscience.