Virginia has joined a handful of states that have enacted laws allowing students to opt out of dissecting fetal pigs, cats, earthworms, or other animals.

Starting this academic year, all Virginia students must be told they can decline to dissect without penalty, and instructors must provide them with alternative learning tools, such as computer programs, internet tutorials, or plastic models.

The law has surprised some teachers, including Rebecca Ross, who teaches senior anatomy and physiology and 10th-grade biology at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County, Va. ...

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