7 May 2015
Humanizing Animal Rights
Animal welfare and rights laws have been in existence for decades but there is growing debate over how much further those laws should go to entitle non-human animals natural rights equal to those of humans. This debate is controversial due to the affects that granting equal rights to animals would have on humans. What if you had a terminal disease and you were told that there was a new drug that could cure the disease only you could not receive the new drug because of inability to get approval from the FDA due to an imposed ban on animal testing? “If non-human animals were to be given rights analogous to those of humans, almost all animal experimentation would become criminalized and would cease.” (Alex K. Rich and Geraldine Wagner). It is interesting to note that this debate has been waged by people who want to see equation in rights for animals rather than the animals themselves. “The animal rights movement, which claims that some 53 billion animals, not counting fish caught in the ocean, are killed each year, is unique in that it is the only social movement in which the ostensibly oppressed party is not the party directly campaigning for an end to its oppression.” (Alex K. Rich and Geraldine Wagner). One controversy connected to the animal rights movement has been the methods some activists have employed to get their points across and the costs incurred due to damages to life and property, “According to the FBI, animal rights activists have claimed responsibility for over 1,200 crimes since 1976, resulting in damages conservatively estimated at approximately $110 million.” (Alex K. Rich and Geraldine Wagner). Although animal rights are important, I feel that time and funding would be better served strengthening enforcement of current animal rights and regulations than exploring ways to establish new and expanded animal welfare rights equivalent to those of human beings.
It is easy to feel a sense of pity for non-human animals that are unable to communicate their fears and desires to humans much like an infant is unable to communicate theirs to a parent. This sense of empathy is what drives many people to take up the struggle for equality. Many feel that not only is there not enough being done for animals who cannot represent themselves but that there just aren’t enough laws to regulate treatment, “While human society maintains a large body of laws to regulate how humans interact with one another, there are relatively few laws dictating how humans must treat animals.” (Micah Issitt and Heather Newton). The main reason that animals are used in medical experiments is because their genetic make-up, their cardiovascular systems, their respiratory systems, their nervous systems, and in some cases their bone structures are so similar to that of human beings; because of these similarities it is easy to argue that animals, being so similar, deserve similar rights. Due to unenforced laws and regulations governing the use and treatment of animals in experimentation for research and data, many animals are forced to endure unnecessary and inhumane torture. Although they are not able to express their pain verbally it does not mean it does not exist, “Animals are sensory creatures and have been found to undergo a wide range of sensory experiences as a result of the level of care and concern they are shown.” (Micah Issitt and Heather Newton). There has to be people who are willing to stand up for animals and to be a voice that would otherwise go unheard when it comes to animal rights, “The animal rights movement emphasizes overall animal well-being and is based on the assumption that all animals have the right to pursue a lifestyle in concert with their inherent nature.” (Micah Issitt and Heather Newton).
Although it is understandable for people to become emotional and feel the need to fight for more effective rights for animals, science and the overall