Facing Lawsuit, NIH Apologizes for Barring PETA VP from Public Meeting

For Immediate Release:
April 19, 2023

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has officially apologized for excluding Dr. Alka Chandna, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigation cases, from a public meeting at the agency’s main campus, after PETA threatened legal action for violation of the First Amendment.

In a letter sent to PETA’s legal counsel, Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, writes, “I apologize,” acknowledging that Dr. Chandna had been invited to attend the public comment session of the National Advisory Mental Health Council’s open policy meeting on February 7 in Bethesda, Maryland. Her exclusion, Lauer wrote, was due to a “miscommunication between the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the NIH police.”

“I look forward to exercising my First Amendment right to attend NIH public meetings and advocate for animals who are locked in laboratory cages and subjected to painful, terrifying experiments,” says Chandna. “PETA and I are determined to push NIH toward an animal-free future of sophisticated, human-relevant research methods.”

NIH security guards had informed Dr. Chandna that she was not allowed inside because she had previously posted, in public spaces on the campus, PETA flyers that were critical of the agency’s unethical treatment of monkeys, including keeping them in solitary confinement for years, frightening them with fake snakes and spiders, and inflicting irreversible brain damage on them.

Pointing out that NIH had violated the First Amendment by denying Dr. Chandna entry because of her critical views, PETA Foundation Litigation Counsel Jeffrey Stein wrote—in a letter sent to NIH officials on February 15—that PETA was prepared to take legal action to enforce Dr. Chandna’s and its constitutional rights.

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, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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