Groundbreaking Suit Says It’s Unconstitutional to Exempt Birds in Laboratories From Animal Protection Law
For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2021
Moira Colley 202-483-7382
Washington – Harry Potter actor Evanna Lynch has joined PETA in a first-of-its kind lawsuit challenging a federal law that allows deadly brain experiments on owls at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). PETA and Lynch—along with a JHU senior and a former Maryland secretary of health—are suing as “next friends” to the birds, who are cut up and killed in taxpayer-funded experiments and barred from protection under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) because of a 2002 loophole drafted by notorious civil rights and animal rights opponent Sen. Jesse Helms.
PETA’s lawsuit—filed against two U.S. Department of Agriculture officers responsible for ensuring the enforcement of the AWA—seeks to have the Helms Amendment abolished, noting that the U.S. Constitution prohibits singling out individuals or groups for congressionally imposed punishment, such as the death sentences imposed by Sen. Helms’ amendment.
“Experimenters cut into barn owls’ skulls, insert electrodes into their brains, restrain them, put headphones on them to force them to listen to sounds, and record their brain activity,” Lynch previously wrote in a letter to JHU calling for an end to the experiments. “They’re eventually killed so that their brains can be removed and examined. There can be no ethical justification for this grotesque cruelty.”
If successful, PETA and Lynch’s lawsuit will lead to greater protection for tens of millions of mice, birds, and other unfairly exempted animals used in laboratories across the country.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.