#Evergreen: Opponents of animal research should refuse medical treatment

February 19th 2021

We are in the midst of a global pandemic—with  105.4 million cases and 2.3 million deaths since the start of the pandemic. Fortunately, due to decades of animal research on coronaviruses, various vaccine candidates were expedited, and their safety and efficacy profile evaluated in animals and humans. As a consequence two vaccines have received Authorization for Emergency Use in the US.

Source: Nature

As highlighted in our recent guest post by Dr. Michele Basso, those opposed to animal-research will continue to benefit from our hard work while they continue to organize campaigns of harassment and intimidation against the people who are working hard every day to provide new knowledge that will lead to exactly the kinds of treatments they so eagerly accept.

Thus, we continue our “Evergreen” series with a post from ten years ago, in which we articulated why those opposed to animal research should refuse medical treatment.

Opponents of animal research should refuse medical treatment

Originally posted 11/17/2011

In a new post, anti-animal research activist Rick Bogle bemoans that his side is often challenged with a natural question:

“Would you forgo medical treatment developed through animal research?”

We can safely assume that the vast majority of those that oppose animal research do not have any qualms about vaccinating their children and companion animals or that, in case of an accident, would rush to the nearest emergency room to be treated with the benefits of animal research.

Are they not hypocrites?

Mr. Bogle doesn’t think so.  In response he writes that to live true to our own challenge scientists must refuse all benefits obtained in ways we consider unethical as well.

Namely, he challenges us back with: (a) not traveling on roads built by slaves — if we really oppose slavery, (b) refusing the care of a doctor whose education was based partly on knowledge obtained by  Nazi physicians — if we truly oppose the Holocaust, and (c) for our daughters and wives to forgo gynecological care — as many of its techniques were apparently developed by Dr. J. Marion Sims using non-consenting human subjects.

This is a flawed argument.

It is clear that none of the unethical practices Mr. Bogle mentions are accepted nor widespread today.  Thus, by traveling on a road built by slaves one is not actively supporting slavery.  By accepting gynecological care, one is not actively supporting experiments in non-consenting human subjects.  And so on.

In contrast, the use of animals in medical research today is ubiquitous.  Animal research provides medical benefits that translate into longer and healthier lives.  There is a public demand for such benefits. If the desire for living longer and healthier lives vanished tomorrow, so would animal research, along with the rest of medical research.

Mr. Bogle’s challenge rests on a false analogy.

A proper analogy would be the following.  Suppose you oppose child and forced labor practices and you discover that a particular US company manufactures its products overseas under such labor conditions.

Would you still buy form such a company?  Is there any way in which you can rightfully say that you morally oppose forced labor but are nevertheless entitled to benefit from the cheap prices the company has to offer?

Of course not.

If you buy from such a company you are a hypocrite to the full extent of the word, as you are actively supporting, financing and perpetuating a practice you consider immoral.

Ethical principles are supposed to guide one’s moral judgements.  If you have strong moral principles you want to impart on the rest of society, you better be the first to be prepared to accept the consequences of such principles.

Mr. Bogle and his ilk should stop benefiting from our research immediately.

They should live by their beliefs.

Until then, they are nothing more than hypocrites.

~Speaking of Research