An Italian woman who declared in an internet posting that
she owed her life to medicines developed from testing on laboratory mice has
gone on national television to answer abuse from animal rights militants.
Caterina Simonsen, 25, received insults and abuse, which politicians rushed
to condemn, after posting a defence of animal
testing on Facebook.
"Without it, I would have died when I was nine," wrote Simonsen,
whose story has dominated Italian newspapers and television reports.
One anti-vivisection activist responded on
Facebook. "You could die tomorrow. I wouldn't sacrifice my goldfish for
you." Another commented: "If you had died as a child, no-one would
have given a damn."
Shocked by the tone of the messages, Simonsen, who has a respiratory
illness requiring her to be attached to oxygen tubes, made a video that was
played repeatedly on national media on Sunday.
"I want to get a degree so that I can help save
animals," she said, speaking while wearing an oxygen mask. She has
several dogs and is studying to be a veterinarian at the University of Bologna.
"I have received messages saying that the lives of 10 rats are more
important than mine. I don't know what planet these people live on and who
raised them," she said, breaking into tears. "I am alive thanks to
doctors, to medicines and to animals who had to be sacrificed."
Her mother told an Italian newspaper she had received messages of support on
Facebook and Twitter
from around the world, including one from Matteo Renzi, the popular centre-left
leader widely expected to be a future prime minister.
(Picture: Caterina Simonsen, from Facebook)
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