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To simplify the opinions of both sides of the argument, this section will focus exclusively on the testing of animals for medical purposes.


Opponents of vivisection believe that animals are too different from humans for animal testing to produce relevant results.

  • They point out the many times that a drug has passed the animal trials only to fail the following human trials. The suffering of the animals used in these experiments is seen as pointless and a waste of time and money.

  • There is also the chance that a drug that could potentially work on humans never even makes it to human trials because it failed animal trials.

  • Opponents believe that all types of animal testing are wrong and that the burden greatly outweighs the benefit.



Proponents of vivisection believe that the extensive list of medical advances achieved through animal research justifies the practice.


  • Insulin, which has saved the lives of countless diabetics, was discovered through lab research on dogs. 

  • Vaccines for deadly diseases like smallpox, polio, anthrax and rabies were all developed through animal testing. 

  • The invention of pacemakers and the development and refining of life-saving procedures such as open heart surgery are also results of animal testing.


The Centers for Disease Control claim that their animal research has led to numerous advances resulting in people living healthier and longer lives than ever before. These include, but are not limited to:


  • development and evaluation of vaccines, treatments, and new diagnostic tests for hepatitis

  • better understanding of the transmissibility of influenza

  • licensure of the first DNA vaccine, used to protect horses and condors from West Nile virus

  • significant enhancement of a clinical trial underway in the US and Africa of an antiretroviral drug in which it was determined that a more potent drug regimen (with an acceptable safety profile) will work for pre-exposure treatment to repeatedly prevent sexual transmission of an HIV-like virus

  • evaluation of the effectiveness of an Ebola vaccine (developed at NIH)

  • evaluation of the effectiveness of smallpox interventions (in collaboration with the Department of Defense)



In 1956 the drug thalidomide was introduced as a sedative that many pregnant women took to help with the nausea associated with pregnancy.


To everyone’s horror, the drug turned out to cause severe birth defects, loss of limbs, and death in more than 15,000 unborn children.


Those against vivisection claim that thalidomide is proof that animal testing is useless because the drug was tested on animals and deemed safe.


Those in support of vivisection claim that thalidomide is proof that the more animal testing, the better. If the drug had been tested on pregnant animals, the disaster would have been avoided.


Because of thalidomide all drugs are now tested on pregnant animals before going to human trials.



Proponents of vivisection have a strong case, but their case is based solely on the medical advances that have resulted from animal testing.


There are many other types of animal experimentation that are questionable.


Many of the supporters of animal testing draw the line at medical research and do not support these other kinds of vivisection for ethical reasons.

Animal testing, against animal testing, cosmetic testing on animals, animal experimentation, animal research
Animal testing, against animal testing, cosmetic testing on animals, animal experimentation, animal research

The Arguments for and Against Animal Testing

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