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The History And Purpose Of The Animal Rights Movement

977 words - 4 pages

As of today PETA is one group that is helping animals in barbaric situation like that of professional research laboratories. In these laboratories, the staff treats animals inhumanly where chemicals are poured onto the animal causing burns and sores. According to answers.com, animal rights are the rights to humane treatment claimed on behalf of animals, especially the right not to be exploited for human purposes. This movement in America traces its roots to the settlers. According to the US History Encyclopedia in 1641, Body of Liberties laws, Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans came up with the first animal protection laws when they included two provisions prohibiting cruelty to animals. After the Civil war is when animal rights became a public issue. “Henry Bergh organized the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866 (Encyclopedia).” Bergh came from a wealthy shipbuilding family; he became an activist for abused carriage horses in New York City. Bergh also was an activist against butchers, carters, carriage drivers, and organizers of dogfights and cockfights. His support gained efforts of others to join in this movement. This early movement saw strong opposition to using animals for medical experimentation. “In 1966 congress passed the Animal Welfare Act. Nevertheless, the use of animals in medical Laboratories, on factory farms, and for other business purposes increased, because judges saw in the prohibition of "unjustified" infliction of pain an effort to protect human morals, not animals, and generally did not find violations of the law where the purpose of the activity was to benefit human beings (Encyclopedia).” The US History Encyclopedia also says, that there were “three highly publicized incidents [that] changed animal rights into a national grass roots movement; (1) protests organized by Hary Spira against the Animal Museum of National History in New York City for its experiments on cats; (2) the arrest and conviction of Dr. Edward Taub in 1981 for abusive practices on monkeys at the federally funded institute for Behavioral Research; and (3) The 1984 release of the Animal Liberation Front’s documentary Unnecessary Fuss, which showed baboons at the University of Pennsylvania being bashed in the head for experiments on trauma.”
On one side of the issue is the people that are for all animals should have equal rights. This side believes that many other animals are able to think to some extent and are certainly able to feel pain therefore non-human animals should be accorded rights. According to Peter Singer, professor of philosophy and director at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and best known for his book Animal Liberation, he says “‘When humans fail to measure the capacity of animals to suffer, they become guilty of ‘speciesism,’ an injustice parallel to racism and sexism (Animal Rights Opposing Viewpoints, 1996).’” This fact is not to say that all animals must be equal, it does mean that all animals...

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