It’s not a new message, but it’s a crucial one, say three local doctors who are members of a national non-profit organization called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).
The 30,000-plus doctors and medical students who make up the membership are trying to promote the message to their patients and to the public that a nuclear war will be the last epidemic on Earth, since there will be little left to be diseased after a nuclear war.
Dr. Jabez Galt, Dr. Ralph Tompsettand Dr. Robert Fineare members of the Dallas chapter of PSR, and they all practice in or near Baylor University Medical Center. They say that participation in PSR by doctors here is minimal, but they are each trying to increase their own participation now that the threat of nuclear war has reached a peak.
“I think education is the key,” says Fine. “I think we lack public knowledge about nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons policy. It’s truly in-credible when one considers the implications for all mankind when we look at the budget that goes into it. I gave two lectures today to a group of nurses and physicians outside this area. They didn’t want to talk about nuclear weapons issues, and the consensus was that we all suffer from denial. We don’t like to think about these issues.”
Fine says he was astounded when no one in the groups he spoke to could answer what he considers basic questions about nuclear weapons, such as: How many nuclear warheads are there? How are nuclear weapons diversified? What are the implications of MX or Pershing missiles?
Fine says his personal motivation for learning the answers to those questions is his 3-year-old daughter. “I have always cared about the issues, but it wasn’t until I had a child that I thought that these issues were more important than any others.”
Galt says that his interest in the prevention of nuclear war stems from World War II. The United States dropped the hydrogen bomb over Hiroshima just days before the ship on which Galt was stationed was scheduled to land on the Japanese islands to head an invasion.
Tompsett, a specialist in epi-demiological diseases, is most concerned about the potential for the worldwide spread of disease after a nuclear blast.
Literature from the national organization shows that PSR supports a bilateral nuclear weapons freeze and a comprehensive test-ban treaty and opposes “first strike” weapons and civil defense planning for nuclear war. PSR’s office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, acts as a national resource center for groups that want information about nuclear issues; its Washington, D.C., office is a watchdog of nuclear legislation.
Fine says that he, Thompsett and Galt want to make themselves available as speakers and encourages other physicians to join them, but he adds that the organization is not for the general public.