Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Colorado voters: HB 1149, Alternatives to Dissection bill

I get alerts from HSUS which often seem to have nothing to do with the way I think. However, today I got an alert that I can fully stand behind. They think I live in Colorado (I used to), so that’s why I got a Colorado-specific alert.

House Bill 1149 in Colorado has passed committee and now goes to the full House for the vote.

As long as House Bill 1149 does not get cut or gutted, Colorado students will be able to choose alternatives to dissecting animals such as cats, fetal pigs and frogs in their science classes.

State Rep. Nancy Todd‘s(D-Aurora)proposal passed out of the House Education Committee on an 8-5 vote Jan. 28. The bill will allow students to dissect animals “virtually” on a computer model or via other means.

“I support hands-on learning,” Rep. Todd said, “and I know there’s a different feel – so to speak – when using alternatives to dissection. But I want to allow science teachers to offer options to those students who have moral, ethical or religious objections, just as fourteen other states have done.”

HB 1149 now goes to the full House for a vote.

HSUS’ alert automated letter mentions that 6 million vertebrate animals are dissected in high schools in this country every year. I am not going to bother to fact check that number, because it is irrelevant to me. One would be too many, in my opinion. The important thing is that the students are given the right to opt out, which not only reduces the number of animals killed for unnecessary science experiments, it will hopefully highlight the fact that the humane alternatives are even better ways to learn than the dissections are.

I participated in dissections in high school, as uncomfortable as it made me. I didn’t feel I had a choice. I didn’t ask to not participate either – back then I was one to just go with the flow, I am not sure I had what it would have taken to stand up for myself. I also learned absolutely nothing from those dissections in class. At home, however, we had a computer game called “operation frog” or something like that, and I learned a hell of a lot more playing a dissection game on the computer with the cheesy graphics from the 80’s than I did in science class with a “real” frog.

And by the way, I went on to major in Biology in college, so it isn’t that I didn’t have an affinity for science.

So, Colorado voters, please contact your state representative and ask them to vote YES on HB 1149. Seems like a no-brainer for it to pass, but there is no point in leaving it to chance.

petey at poplar spring

7 responses to “Colorado voters: HB 1149, Alternatives to Dissection bill

  1. girl least likely to February 4, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    i was a lot like you in high school–didn’t want to dissect, but it never even occurred to me that i could request not to. i just did it because The Teacher Said We Had To. argh. if i could go back in time, i would definitely request to sit that out. anyhow, i hope this bill passes! i think it’s great.

  2. Deb February 4, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    That’s exactly how I was! Teacher said it, I dealt with it, regardless of how disturbing I found it. I think that having blindly followed authority’s dictates when I was younger is part of why I so greatly mistrust authority now! I bet the same is true for you, and others like us, to varying degrees. I’m sure there are a LOT of kids like we were, and just knowing they have the right to opt out might make them think and realize that the have choices, and that alone could help them stand up for their ethics! I really hope it passes.

    Apparently 14 other states already have laws like this in place. I should do some research to see which ones!

  3. rich February 4, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Great post and yeah it seems likes a no brainer to pass. I am not sure what the other 13 states are but NY has a provision in the state law that allows for students to request an alternative to dissection.
    As a science teacher there is no dissection or animals used in my classroom, but they also leave my school knowing why we did not do animal experiments in my school and that they never have to do them.

  4. Deb February 5, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Rich, that’s great that NY has a provision like that. NY is considered one of the top states for education, isn’t it? That’s another good piece of information to have, I’d think.

    I love that you encourage your students to be critical thinkers. 🙂

  5. Mary Martin February 6, 2008 at 10:29 am

    i went to school on long island and i faked fainting from the fumes of formaldehyde to get out of dissection. i did it several times and got away with it every time and they knew i was faking every time. (i dissected the worm, which was first, but knew I couldn’t go any further.)

    my critical thinking was around: how am i gonna get out of this? and i suppose the critical thinking of my teachers was: do i penalize her and make a bunch of waves or do i let it go? at the time they did me a favor, but in retrospect i could have benefited from having to fight for my belief. i was eating meat at the time, though, so i probably would’ve made a fool of myself (or stopped eating meat so i wouldn’t look like such a fool!).

    rich rocks.

  6. Deb February 6, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I wish I’d thought of fainting! I feel sick to my stomach to think about how many dissections I ended up participating in. I was really good at not thinking when I needed to not think back then.

    Rich does rock. 😀

  7. rich February 6, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks for the compliments. I have to admit sadly that I had no qualms about dissecting a fetal pig when I went back to school. I don’t think I ever made it far enough in HS to get to any dissections. If we did I cut that day or was to stoned to remember.

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