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Indiana Lawmaker Seeks Animal Dissection Alternative

State Rep. Ragen Hatcher wants to give kids in schools the option to go digital instead of using traditional tools.

INDIANAPOLIS -- One Indiana lawmaker wants to create options for students who just don't want do to wield scalpels in the classroom for animal dissections. 

You know the traditional tools of animal dissection with the microscope and that scalpel. Well, State Rep. Ragen Hatcher wants schoolkids to be able to go digital.

An IUPUI biology lecturer knows the ins and outs of animal dissection. "We've done cats, we've done fetal pigs, we've done frogs," said Robert Yost, the senior lecturer of biology at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis. "We've done earthworms, we've done sea stars." 

He's taught and led students in the inner workings since 1993.

"It really gives them an opportunity to see what the true inside workings of an animal really look like and how they're related," Yost said.

Yost said virtual dissections work, but added, "I think it's much more beneficial for students to have a hands-on experience and really be able to see, because internally, there are just normal anatomical differences in the way structures are put together or how they're oriented within the body, that you don't get on the virtual." 

Rep. Hatcher, a Democrat from Gary, said, "All those animals that are killed every year to be used in the schools. Some schools use pigs even." 

Which is why Hatcher filed her "alternatives to animal dissection" bill.

"I'm sure there are other opportunities for students to be able to learn about dissection, technologically, without necessarily cutting open a frog itself," Hatcher said.

Her bill suggests films, pictures, models, live observation in the wild or a zoo, or via computer. 

Hatcher is not sure if her bill will get a hearing. She should know in the coming days. 

News 8 asked some people visiting Indianapolis to weigh in.

Brian Wald of Tacoma, Washington, said, "If there has to be an alternative, then it would be nice to have a realistic one. I don't think you necessarily have to have an alternative. I think the real thing sometimes can't be substituted." 

Samantha Ruben of Chicago said about the proposal, "I think that sounds fair. It's kind of an uncomfortable experience. So, I think an alternative would be good." 

(Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(WISH-TV: David Williams)

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