State school board allows students to say no to animal dissections

Aug 3, 2014

There's good news for Michigan students who don't want to dissect animals in the science lab.

An example of one of the virtual animal dissection programs students can use.
An example of one of the virtual animal dissection programs students can use.
Credit ©Emantras Inc 2014

The State Board of Education has adopted a policy that schools give students a chance to opt out of animal dissection.

Students who choose not to dissect real animals would instead follow with the class on a computer program.

It's a policy recommendation, not legislation.

John Austin is the president of the board. He said this could potentially save schools money. And he added that most medical schools don't use real animal dissections anymore to teach students.

"They use computer simulations during the educational process and so if it’s good enough for preparing our doctors, it’s probably a better approach that we should use in our schools," Austin said. 

Michigan joins 21 other states and the District of Columbia that have policies allowing students to opt out of animal dissections.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals addressed the board in the spring.

Samantha Suiter is the science education specialist at PETA.

"We’ve seen time and time again that forcing students to dissect animals can be incredibly traumatizing and even deters some of them from pursuing medical or veterinary careers later in life," she said. 

The board also said that computer programs can be cheaper than purchasing the cadavers.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom