Saturday, December 13, 2008
Dissection, that formaldehyde-infused rite of passage for biology students everywhere, has a new and very committed opponent. This fall, Jennifer Thornburg, 19, changed her name to CutoutDissection.com which is also a protest site maintained by PETA, where she is an intern. BONNIE ROCHMAN asked the Norfolk, Va., resident about championing her cause.
Has the name change made people treat you like a weirdo?
The woman at the DMV had a really interesting look on her face, like it was rude to ask, but she finally did, and I was able to tell her all about dissection. It was awesome. No matter what I have to put up with, animals have to put up with so much more.
What are the alternatives to dissection?
There are computer simulations, 3-D models. Over 20 different studies show these alternatives are just as educational as dissection, if not more so.
When did you first give dissection the cold shoulder?
In seventh grade, when I was faced with dissecting a chicken wing. I asked for an alternative, but [the teacher] said only if I'm a vegetarian.
What did your family think about your name change?
When I called my dad to tell him, he had me repeat it, like, three times. Then I sent him a DVD of an undercover investigation into a dissection-supply company. After he watched it, he told me he completely supports me.
You just graduated from high school. Any plans for college?
I applied to one college already. One of the essays was "Talk about yourself." So I wrote, "I changed my name to raise awareness about dissection options available to students." The college puts a lot of emphasis on people who volunteer, so I'm hoping it will go over well. I'm not holding my breath.