The Facts about Premarin
by Delisa Renideo

(Sixth article)

Summer in Alaska is full of incredible beauty. One of the many things I find so beautiful is the sight of sleek, graceful horses moving freely in pastures around the Valley. Horses seem to epitomize freedom and graceful movement.
And yet, there are tens of thousands of horses in strict confinement on farms in Canada and the U.S. chained in stalls too small to move around in from September through March or April. These are all pregnant mares, and they are outfitted with a rubber cup to collect their urine. Why? Because pregnant maresí urine (PMU) contains estrogen which we use to make Premarin (forms include Prempro, Premphase and Prempac) used as hormone replacement therapy by women during menopause.
I am one of the millions of women dealing with hot flashes, but I certainly have no desire to take a pill made from the urine of a horse! In addition to not relishing the thought of ingesting urine, I am unwilling to contribute to an industry which involves cruel treatment of animals. And I suspect that if more women understood the origin of Premarin, they would look for an alternative.
There are approximately 500 PMU farms in North America, with at least 50,000 mares chained in tiny stalls for 6 months of their 11 month pregnancy. They get no exercise and are forced to stand on concrete floors, causing some of them to go lame. Some of their chains are so short they canít even lie down comfortably. The rubber cup attached to their vulva 24 hours a day causes painful chafing
Because the farmers are paid by the percentage of estrogen in the urine, it is more profitable for this urine to be concentrated. This is achieved by depriving the mares of ready access to water. They receive their ration of water twice a day. . . not enough to relieve their thirst.

These mares are kept pregnant year after year because we want their urine. But what about all their foals? What do we do with them? After about three months with their mother, many of them go to feedlots to be fed and fattened to a desirable market weight. Then they are slaughtered and sold for human consumption in Europe and Japan. This is usually the fate of retired PMU mares as well.
I was happy to read in a recent issue of the Frontiersman about a Palmer-area woman, Janet Burts, who is rescuing foals from a PMU operation, trucking them to Alaska, and finding homes for them here. Iím always thrilled to discover people working to help the animals. But the rest of us can help as well. We need to let others know where Premarin comes from and the suffering it causes to the horses. We need to educate ourselves about the alternatives to hormone replacement therapy. If we decide to take hormones, there are plant-based hormones available that do not cause animals to suffer. In addition to talking with your health care provider, you can learn a lot on the internet. Do a search on Premarin to read more about this topic and discover what alternatives are available.
When women stop buying hormones derived from pregnant horses, the cruel practices associated with PMU farms will come to an end. I believe that women are innately caring and when we discover that we can find compassionate alternatives to Premarin, we will gladly do so. Please share this information with all the women you know who may be dealing with this issue.Together, we can help these beautiful and graceful animals.

Delisa is a co-founder of Rays of Hope and can be contacted at 373-1526.

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