(CNSNews.com) – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals does not take a stand on whether abortion kills unborn children, but it did give President Barack Obama a catch-and-release bug trap after the president killed a fly on camera during a television interview in June.
“Obviously, the pro-life movement feels very strongly about life in all its forms,” PETA spokesperson Ashley Byrnes told CNSNews.com. “In the pro-choice movement we have a lot of people who are very bothered by the fact animals that are forcibly impregnated on factory farms. These animals, they never have a choice about what’s happening to their own body.
“We just have people on both sides of the issue who support us,” Byrnes said. “We don’t take a stance on that (abortion) any more than Operation Rescue would take a stance on going vegetarian.”
Byrnes told CNSNews.com that PETA gave the catch-and-release bug trap to Obama so he would have a choice when it comes to killing insects.
“You know, really, the only reason we actually sent him the fly swatter, I’m sorry, the fly catcher, was that so many people had contacted us from the media after this happened and asked if we were going to have any response,” Byrnes said. “And so, we really just sent it just as something helpful that he could use if he wanted an alternative to doing it next time.”
Byrnes added that PETA supports Obama and his wife.
“To us, that’s so overshadowed by all the positive things seen from Barack Obama, like the way he condemned puppy mills, and Michelle Obama, you know she’s come out and said she won’t wear furs,” Byrnes said.
Byrnes spoke at the annual Capitol Hill Veggie Dog Lunch, held on the steps of the Rayburn Building on Wednesday. Diners lined up to get a free orange-colored veggie dog served by two Playboy bunnies dressed in imitation lettuce bikinis. Both women claimed to be vegetarians.
The event is held each year to protest National Hot Dog Month, PETA officials said.
“What you see us doing here today and our big campaign, that’s what we are really focused on,” Byrnes said. “It’s never been so easy or so delicious to adopt a vegetarian diet. You have such a large impact when you do that. I mean, you’re not just helping your own health, your helping billions of animals that are suffering on factory farms.”
Bruce Friedrich, vice president of PETA, made an official statement for the organization after Obama killed the fly.
“We support compassion for the even the smallest animals," Friedrich said. “We support giving insects the benefit of the doubt."
He also said PETA favors "brushing flies away rather than killing them.”
Friedrich has said that PETA does not take a position on abortion because it does not involve cruelty to animals.
PETA volunteers on Wednesday handed out vegetarian “starter kits,” with articles about the harm caused to human health by milk and eggs, vegan recipes and quotes from celebrities who are vegetarians, including Paul McCartney.
“I am a vegetarian because I realize even little chickens suffer pain and fear, experience a range of feeling and emotions, and are as intelligent as mammals, including dogs, cats and even some primates,” McCartney is quoted as saying in the hand-out.
In the "Ask the Experts" portion of the hand-out, Sylvia Earle, former chief scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, commented on eating fish.
"Fish are our fellow citizens with scales and fins," Earle said. "I would never eat anyone I know personally. I wouldn't deliberately eat a grouper anymore than I would eat a cocker spaniel. They're so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities and they hurt when they're wounded."
PETA, which claims to be the largest animal rights organization in the world, opposes animals being used for food, clothing, entertainment or medical experiments, according to its Web site.
PETA also spends time on Capitol Hill to lobby for animal rights legislation, including support for laws that would end the practice of companion animals being owned by their human caretakers and animals having the same rights as people.