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Medicine: Use of Anesthesia, Death of Animals in Research

March 02, 1995

In response to veterinarian John Young, who answered Margo Lowe so that he might tell the "real story" concerning the pig used for medical research ("Dogged By Doubt," Jan. 15; Letters, Feb. 16.) First of all, Dr. Young assumes that the "real story" is the use of anesthesia. Then he proceeds to explain that after its usefulness was up, the pig was killed, but that it was a "painless death."

I'm sorry, but the operative word here is: death.

The question isn't anesthesia! The question is whether human beings have the right to use and destroy life for their own purposes. And highly suspect and questionable purposes, at that.

If the answer is yes to the question of humans using any life they please, then what criteria is established? Is it size? Intelligence? Ability? If so, then is it right to experiment on handicapped, mentally retarded, small people? If that sounds facetious, it isn't. Consider this: When do we start questioning the sacrifice of millions of innocent creatures for experimentation?

Dr. Young also states that this cruel agony and ignorant slaughter "is the only way currently available to doctors" for medical research. Then he says how many lives have been saved and treatments yielded. These two statements are untrue. Suffice it to say that animal models are no medical match for humans. And let's not ignore the billions of dollars in grants to fund all these dubious experiments. How does the good doctor feel about the Army's documented research using cats that are strapped down while bullets are fired into their brains? Think that yields something valuable?

There is not enough space here to go into the moral and ethical ramifications of animal research. But the "real story" has to be that all life is important and sacred.

SHELLEY BUTLER

Beverly Hills

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