Research labs create a moral dilemma


I happened to be a bystander during PETA’s protest rally at the U and had the chance to speak with one of the protesters. She handed me a flier with a picture of a cat and some sort of device implanted into its skull. She informed me that animals at the U were being tortured. The protester then described an experiment of kittens being injected with chemicals and how they studied the mother cat’s response. The kittens died in the end.

As a pre-med student at the U, I will most likely encounter animal research at some point in my academic career. But will doing animal research and research not necessarily conducted to find cures make me a bad person? Will doing research make me equivalent to the mentally perturbed kid who puts a kitten into a microwave “just to see what happens”? This is the how PETA and similar advocates seem to label researchers and scientists, and it is simply unfair.

I asked the protester what alternatives there were to animal testing, and she firmly replied, “Stem cell research. It’s the only way to go.” However, speed bumps in the form of ideological differences will make the transition from animal testing to purely stem cell a turbulent ride, for sure. This leaves my future as a “moral person” a rather uncertain one. Do I become a scientist to kill fuzzy, affectionate friends or poor, innocent babies? It is not easy picking a side. Taking a stand on either issue has the potential to mark me as an awful person in the eyes of the populace.

Researchers should not be condemned by society for conducting experiments, deprived of the proper tools they need by society. In the meantime, they should do what they can while the opposing sides battle it out.

Sally Yoo,

Freshman, Pre-med and physics