Harvard Physicians, PETA Call for an End to Medical Training on Animals

Published by Zachary Toliver.

PETA teamed up with experts at Harvard University to present evidence and urge the U.S. military and others to replace deadly trauma and biomedical skills training on animals with more effective, ethical, and economical human-simulation technology.

In an article just published by the medical journal Simulation in Healthcare, Harvard physicians Dr. John Pawlowski and Dr. David Feinstein and PETA researcher Shalin Gala explain why simulators can now fully replace animals in all areas of medical training.

The article details the monumental progress that PETA, its affiliates, and others have made around the world in replacing the use of millions of animals each year in various areas of medical training for military service members, surgeons, and medical students. The authors also call on the military and professional medical organizations to end their use of animals for medical training in favor of superior human-simulation technology.

The authors state that the significant shift from the use of animals in biomedical training toward simulation-based education methods has “been driven by technological advances, empirical evidence of improved student outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and a growing concern for the welfare of animals.”


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The U.S. Coast Guard has already ended its use of animals in trauma training drills, and the U.S. Defense Health Agency has described this type of training as “outdated.”

In addition to the Coast Guard’s decision to stop using animals in trauma trainings, the Army drastically scaled back its use of animals in such drills and the Department of Defense ordered all military branches to eliminate the use of animals in six different medical training areas.

The calls for change began after PETA released shocking eyewitness videos showing live pigs and goats being mutilated in military trauma trainings. Efforts led by PETA to replace live animals with high-tech human-patient simulators have found far-reaching support—including from voters, members of Congress, veterans, and current military members.

What You Can Do

Cutting apart animals during trauma trainings is unethical and expensive and forces service members to learn on the wrong anatomy. The Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act (H.R. 1243)—which has bipartisan support from more than 140 congressional cosponsors—would phase out so-called “live tissue” trauma training drills on animals and replace them with more effective and less costly human-simulation models. Please write to your congressional representatives and urge them to support the BEST Practices Act today—we’ll help you get started:

Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and informs the public on those issues. It does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind