The medical benefits to humans far outweigh the unpleasant aspects involved in animal research. While everybody hopes for a method of conducting research that doesn’t involve the deaths of animals, presently it just isn’t feasible. Biomedical research involving animals has resulted in scientific advancements for all humanity with the most obvious being that human lives have been saved due to the sacrifice of animals. Animal testing has even led to medical breakthroughs that have extended the life spans of the very species being tested.
Although the practice of dissection animals in order to help the progress of human knowledge was already codified by the flowering of the Roman Empire, it would not be until experimentations of William Harvey in the 1600s that animal research would be revolutionized. Harvey did much to further knowledge of the human anatomy by, paradoxically, studying animal anatomy almost to the point of exclusivity. Since Harvey’s experimentation the concept of using animal research as a means by which to eradicate, or at least better understand, human disease has been the norm. Just about all medical advancements that we currently count on today to save millions of lives that would otherwise be lost have come at the expense of the unfortunate animals used in testing, including everything from vaccinations to surgery. There is also the safety issue to consider. For instance, any new medication introduced in the U.S. is required by the FDA to first undergo testing on animals to make sure it is safe before it is marketed to human beings. Since so many drugs are found to be quite unsafe even with this precaution in place, can you imagine how many people the pharmaceutical industry would murder each year if they could get around this kind of enforced preventative measure.
The primary consideration in this admittedly controversial debate essentially boils down to the question of which life means more: the life of the individual animals who are the subjects of the test, or the lives of the millions of human beings who will benefit from the scientific knowledge that is gained. Animals are certainly deserving of respect and consideration, but scientific research is hardly equitable with animal abuse. It is one thing to condemn Mike Vick and his amazing brainless friends and peers who are involved in dogfights, but it is another to condemn scientific inquiry. The killing of an animal in the pursuit of the knowledge required to cure cancer is not even equitable with the killing of whales for oil or the poaching elephants for ivory. Scientific progress has discovered substitutions in both those cases, but has not reached that point when it comes to finding cures for disease. Until that happens, we must continue to allow animals to be used in scientific testing.