Animal-rights groups hope Oregon health consumers see a link between doctors and monkeys. In Defense of Animals and the Coalition to Abolish Animal Testing are calling for a boycott of the Oregon Health & Science University--including hospitals, doctors, nurses and clinics--over alleged mistreatment of monkeys at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center.
"We're asking Oregonians to not use OHSU for their health care because there's no way to separate dollars going to OHSU and what's going on at the primate center," says Matt Rossell, an IDA campaign coordinator.
Rossell is a former primate center technician who went public last year with allegations that the center was mistreating its approximately 2,900 monkeys. A campaign website, boycottohsu.com, restates those allegations and also charges the OHSU-owned center with sham science and wasting taxpayer dollars.
Activists timed their campaign to coincide with the traditional open-enrollment period for health insurance. OHSU's sprawling system of hospitals and community clinics has 617,280 patient visits a year. The activists hope a patient boycott will persuade OHSU to halt all animal research.
That ought to be an Everest-like slog at best--years of chanting protesters have only encouraged OHSU to beef up security at its laboratories. Besides primates, the university's researchers also use mice, rats, zebrafish, frogs, guinea pigs, swine, cats and dogs.
The boycott is being greeted with derision by OHSU. "It's a hollow gesture at best," says university spokeswoman Lisa Godwin. "Oregon is a hotbed of this misled extremism."