When Judie Mancuso was in grade school she opted out of dissecting frogs and other animals. For her the common practice was torture.
“I refused to be there, I didn’t want to be part of somewhere where they were cutting up animals,” said Mancuso, CEO of the group Social Compassion in Legislation.
That feeling is something she says many students still experience today, even though they are able to opt out of dissection. “It’s not that comfortable that a kid can just opt out, they’re seen as an outsider,” she added.
It’s Mancuso’s goal to end animal dissection in California.
A group of lawmakers and organizations — Social Compassion in Legislation, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and San Jose Democrat Assembly Member Ash Kalra — have created a bill, AB 1586, that would do just that.
If the bill becomes law it would ban all K-12 students from dissecting animals. More than 10 million animals are dissected in schools nationwide every year, according to reports PETA.
“It’s a good time for us to move past dissection and in fact it’s not even required of the education code,” Kalra explains. “It’s been something that’s been a matter of course. I think it’s run its course.”
Kalra says dissecting animals is costly, hurts animals and the environment. The groups say there are better alternatives to killing animals for the use of dissection. They point to technology like 3-D printing and computer software. “It’s actually even better about teaching anatomy and biology and has assessment tools that match quite well,” she says.
Kalra says the digital software is already available and it's free. “The fact that we can save money and do the right thing as it applies to our animals is a win-win situation,” Kalra adds.
The California Science Teachers Association said in an email they were “not able to engage on the topic in the time allowed."