not a research tool

Victory: California Bans Cosmetics Tested on Animals

In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1249 into law, making it illegal to sell products in California that were tested on animals. The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2020, makes California the first state in the nation to enact such a ban.


dissect 002Dissection is the cutting into of a dead animal to learn about the anatomy or physiology of the animal. It involves cutting into a dead animal while vivisection entails cutting into or dissecting a live animal. Over six million animals are killed for the dissection industry each year.

Animals used for dissection:

Sources of dissected animals:

What happens to the animals used for dissection?

Some animals, such as amphibians and reptiles, may suffocate or become crushed during transportation to biological supply companies; most of the animals used for dissection are killed and “processed” at such companies. Undercover investigations have revealed animal abuse at biological supply companies. Frogs, for instance, may be piled into bags for days or even weeks while still alive. Rats may be embalmed alive. Cats may be forcibly injected with preserving fluids after being only partially euthanized, thrown into gas chambers, or drowned.

The effect on the environment:

When one type of animal is removed from an ecosystem, the entire food chain is affected. Frogs, for example, naturally consume many insects. With so many frogs disappearing (as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, and dissection), the insect populations have risen substantially. Because there are more insects, there is greater use of pesticides, which can damage the water supply and food chain. 

Types of classes in which dissection is taught:

The danger to students

Animals used in dissection are often embalmed with formaldehyde, a chemical preservative which can damage the eyes and cause asthma attacks and bronchitis. Moreover, the chemical has been linked to cancer of the throat, lungs, and nasal passages. Symptoms of formaldehyde exposure include eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation; a persistent cough and other respiratory ailments; a headache; and nausea and dizziness.

Objecting to dissection

If you live in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Virginia— you have the legal right to refuse to participate in dissection in class!

Feel free to contact an animal protection organization at any point; we are here to help!

Alternatives to dissection:

Numerous studies have shown that students using humane alternatives learn as well, if not better than students who dissect.

The expense

In the long run, dissection alternatives are less expensive than dissecting live animals. Unlike the former, alternatives such as CD ROMS can be used time and time again, therein permitting students to practice the techniques as many times as they need to truly learn the material. In addition, they are typically accompanied by a manual and do not require supplementary tools such as scalpels or dissections pans.

States that have informed student consent laws (K-12):

States with Student Choice Policies:

States with legislation proposing Student Choice:

Read each state’s individual law.

Passing a Student Choice Policy: