As a physician and a former animal experimenter, I know that even in the most compassionate hands, medical training involving animals is cruel, sad and deadly. The only ethical argument those supporting this practice can make is that it is a "necessary evil" for the advancement of medicine, and therefore worth the misery it inflicts.
But for the purposes of this article, I won't be going into the ethical arguments -- not because they aren't important, but because I believe that the science of using animals in medical training is more than sufficient to discredit the practice. If this is true -- and as a medical educator and former vivisectionist, I fervently believe it is -- then the medical community must face the reality that when the "necessity" is not there, then only the "evil" remains. Last month, students at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) began a physiology course in which they will be asked to cut into live pigs to perform cardiovascular physiology procedures. They will place catheters in the pigs' veins and arteries and inject them with drugs. They'll open the animals' chest cavities and manipulate their hearts. Some of the animals will die during the procedures; the ones who survive will ultimately be killed.