For Immediate Release:
February 15, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Washington – PETA threatened legal action against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a letter today after Dr. Alka Chandna, vice president of laboratory investigation cases, was denied entry to a public meeting at NIH’s main campus, in violation of the First Amendment.
Dr. Chandna had received a written invitation from NIH to attend the National Advisory Mental Health Council’s open policy meeting on February 7 in Bethesda, Maryland. The invitation assured her that, barring unforeseen “scheduling concerns,” she would be allowed up to five minutes to speak.
“Given this cordial exchange, Dr. Chandna was shocked when she was unceremoniously—and discriminatorily—denied entry to the NIH Main Campus on February 7,” writes PETA Foundation Litigation Counsel Jeffrey Stein.
NIH security guards informed Dr. Chandna that she was not allowed inside because she had previously posted, in public spaces on the campus, PETA flyers that were critical of the agency’s unethical treatment of monkeys, including keeping them in solitary confinement for years, frightening them with fake snakes and spiders, and inflicting irreversible brain damage on them.
Pointing out that NIH had violated the First Amendment by denying Dr. Chandna entry because of her critical views, Stein’s letter requests assurance from the agency that Dr. Chandna and other PETA staff “will not be unconstitutionally excluded from future NIH public meetings and from NIH facilities.”
Stein also wrote that PETA is prepared to take legal action to enforce Dr. Chandna’s and its constitutional rights if the request is denied.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.