Many of you will be familiar with PETA’s “March of Crimes” Campaign, which was launched a number of years ago to promote a simple message: Harming animals, whatever your ultimate intention, is harmful to people too. Sadly, charities like March of Dimes, which have a laudable goal of preventing birth defects, also have an ugly side, which the public rarely sees. Many of the experiments on primates, cats, dogs, rats, and other animals that have been funded by the March of Dimes are downright gruesome, and the frustrating thing is that, with so many effective, humane alternatives around, there was absolutely no good reason for these animals to have suffered and died in the first place. Anyway, the reason for all this March of Dimes talk right now is that their annual “WalkAmerica” fundraiser is taking place at the moment, and I’d like to encourage people who are considering giving them a donation to have a look at this great list of humane certified charities instead. These are groups that are doing the same important work as March of Dimes without torturing anyone, which is just a kickass way of getting things done, in my opinion. For a much more eloquent statement on the topic than I could ever muster, here’s an article by my good friend Heather Moore about her own unique experience with humane giving. It’s all pretty damn inspiring, if you ask me:
Health Charities: Helping or Hurting?
By Heather Moore
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
WalkAmerica, March of Dimes’ largest annual fundraiser, is taking place now in cities across the United States. More than fifteen years ago, I participated in this event, believing funds would be used to fight birth defects. Since then, I’ve had three surgeries to correct foot deformities that doctors suspect were caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), a hereditary progressive nerve disorder of the feet, lower legs and hands. CMT is the most common inherited neurological disorder, characterized by a high-arched foot and gait disturbances.
Unbeknownst to many donors, a number of health charities, including the March of Dimes, waste time and money on animal experiments instead of devoting all of their funds to worthwhile projects that may truly help people with CMT and other disabilities or diseases.
This causes me far greater distress than any genetic defect ever could. It’s shameful that a health charity would inflict the same pain and suffering on animals that it wishes to eliminate in humans.
Animal research proponents often like to claim that animal rights advocates would change their minds about animal experimentation if they had diseases or disabilities. I didn’t. In fact, I find the implication that those of us with disabilities would automatically support animal experimentation insulting. It suggests that people with diseases and disabilities are selfish, callous, and desperate, and will support cruelty to animals in order to help themselves—no matter how futile the chance.
It’s simply unethical to cause harm to one species under the guise of helping another—unethical and ineffective. Although animals feel pain and fear like people, there are enormous physiological differences between animals and humans; data taken from one species cannot always be correctly applied to another. Vast differences exist even between mice and rats, let alone rats and humans.
Every dollar spent on animal research is a dollar that could have been better spent on humane, effective methods of fighting birth defects and helping people.
Relevant programs, such as the National Birth Defect Registry, improved prenatal care, counseling and education, and treatment for pregnant women addicted to nicotine, alcohol and drugs, can really help prevent birth defects and improve the quality of life for people with disabling conditions.
Many other charities, including Easter Seals, Birth Defect Research for Children, Heimlich Institute, and the Little People’s Research Fund, Inc., put all their funds into programs that directly benefit people and never waste a penny on animal experiments.
The next time a health charity stretches a hand in your direction, make sure the charity won’t waste your money on cruel animal experiments. After all, health charities are supposed to help stop suffering—not cause it.