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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/645

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THE VIVISECTION QUESTION.

the succeeding chapter. Before passing on to this head, however, two moral questions, fundamental to the whole discussion, must be carefully considered.

An assumption found in every, or almost every, antivivisection argument is that vivisection must be demoralizing to those who practice or witness it. Neither fact nor proof is adduced. From beginning to end it is pure tissue of antivivisection imagination, like the old assumptions against the first anatomists. The assumption is not only unfounded but thoroughly irrational. It would be precisely as sane to assume that a missionary who goes to preach among the heathen tends to become heathenous; or that anything in the practice of surgery or medicine tends to blunt the sensibilities of men in these professions. Granting that there are brutal men in the medical profession, as there are in all others, carries no proof that their work has made them so. It may have made them decidedly more humane than they ever would have been without it.

On just this point I have taken the pains to collect the testimony of experienced teachers of physiology in thirteen institutions in this country, where the greater part of our vivisectional work is done. In every case the moral effect of experimentation is claimed to be wholesome, and in no case have they any evidence of its being evil. I will quote from but one instance, the experience of a professor in an institution for the higher education of women. He writes: "In numerous cases students have entered the course with decided objections to the practice of vivisection; and in no case, so far as I know, have they left without the removal of their objections and the substitution for them of sound views as to the necessity and value of vivisectional work."

The other question is one which touches the bed rock of human life: What is the use of living anyway? It is Franklins old question, "What is the use of a baby, unless it is to become a man?" but with the added question. What is the use of the man? A good many people every year look their lives in the face in this way, and, deciding that this life is of no use or worse than no use, put an end to it.

Furthermore, What is, or what may be, the value of a man's life work? And how far have we the moral right to pass judgment as to the value or use of another's life or work? With the earth reeking in carnage and with humanity and animate Nature writhing in pain, how is it possible to say that God has ordered Nature wisely and mercifully? And taking Nature q,s we find it, what can man do about it?

One theory has always been that the forces of Nature and life are far too vast for man's feeble powers to influence for good or