Dying For A Cure This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Picture a tiny girl in a hospital bed, her eyes glazed over from disease; hands shaking from chills; her auburn locks lay still as her once-bright eyes stay closed ...

This picture was often a reality, but because scientists were able to find cures for polio, smallpox, and malaria, the tiny child in a hospital bed has been a reality to fewer families.

The cures for these diseases aren't just fallen upon. Year after year of clinical testing is required for a medicine to even be considered as a cure. Most of the time testing is done on laboratory animals. If we do not use this technology, fatal diseases could continue to kill many. Those people deserve a chance, and that chance may depend on animal testing.

Earlier this century, vaccines for polio, smallpox and malaria were discovered. Millions of lives have been saved by these discoveries, and these people are in debt to the animal testing of these vaccines. According to a survey done in USA Today, not only lives, but millions of dollars have been saved on hospital bills alone.

The obvious question is what about the animals? They are as innocent as the humans who die. If it was your sister, your mother, your best friend, whose life would you value? The laboratory mouse or the loved one? Human life is priceless. An animal can be purchased at any pet store. It's customary to buy a hamster at a store and keep it in a cage, but treating a human being this way is unheard of. Humans can't be bought. So if the life of an animal is needed to save the life of a human, what choice do we have?

People have a right to stand up for what they believe in. However, when innocent people are negatively affected by a protest, it can become very dangerous. In 1989, the Animal Liberation Front broke into a laboratory at Texas Tech University, stole research animals and damaged equipment costing $50,000. This attack interrupted research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Is an innocent baby's life worth such a protest?

How many lives does animal testing save? Let's start with malaria. According to a study done by Biology Digest in 1994, it is contracted by 300 million people a year. One to two million die of it annually, but 298 million live. Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes can now be treated. Therapy for leukemia and other forms of cancer have been developed to prolong, and even save, the life of its victims. Sickle cell anemia, epilepsy, and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are all being studied, researched and treated through animal testing. Without this technology, where would we turn?

I love animals as much as the next person. I have a cat, dog, and parrot. These animals are very important to me, all animals are. This is why animal testing should only be used in matters of life and death. To test animals for such luxuries as make-up, perfumes, and hair dyes is simple cruelty. These are things humans can live without; a cure for cancer is not.

We have almost all depended on medical care at one time or another. We may look on the back of a perfume bottle to find that "Not Tested On Animals" sticker, but when we are sick we take medicine, regardless of whether or not we see that sticker. It's how we survive. Sick children are one of the saddest sights in this country. If animal testing is what it takes to save them, do we have any other choice? u


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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