Nine Antiwar Doctors and Medical Students Arrested Outside Senator
San Francisco (April 7, 2003)-- Health professionals and students took
to the streets of San Francisco today to raise their voices against the
war in Iraq. More than 30 members of the Health Not War coalition marched
from the San Francisco Department of Public Health to pro-war Senator
Dianne Feinstein's office, connecting the spending on war in Iraq to cuts
in health care funding at home.
As they marched through downtown San Francisco, the white-coated health
workers were greeted with support from passers by, some of whom joined the
demonstration. Protesters carried banners and signs with messages
including "Do No Harm," "Peace is Good for Your Health" and "Future
pediatricians for letting children live." They passed out "prescriptions
for peace" to bystanders.
"When our government is waging a war that has already killed hundreds
of Iraqi civilians and dozens of American soldiers, it is our duty as
medical professionals to speak out," said Joanna Eveland, a student in the
UCB-UCSF Joint Medical Program. Alan Steinbach, a family physician,
agreed. "There are 40 million Americans who lack access to basic health
services. The billions of dollars spent on this war should instead go
towards supporting the health of American families." When the health
workers arrived at Senator Feinstein's office, they held a rally and
teach-in on the building steps. Health Not War members spoke forcefully
about the public health crisis in America and the developing humanitarian
disaster in Iraq.
Health Not War spent the last several weeks writing letters and making
phone calls to Senator Feinstein's office, asking for a meeting with any
member of her staff. All requests were ignored. When protesters arrived at
her downtown San Francisco office this morning, they were again denied
access to their elected representative. Health Not War planned to send a
delegation to deliver a pro-peace resolution to the Senator. Delegation
members made repeated phone calls to the Senator's office from outside,
but were not allowed even to enter the building.
After two hours, protesters anxious to return to their patients and
medical studies felt they had made every effort to reach Senator Feinstein.
Danielle Rees, a graduate student in Public Health at UC Berkeley,
explains the group's reasons for engaging in non-violent civil
disobedience. "We believe strongly in democracy. When our elected
officials refuse dialogue, democracy breaks down. We have no choice but to
sit here peacefully until Senator Feinstein hears our message."
The Health Not War coalition includes faculty, staff and students from
UC San Francisco, as well as community nurses, health educators and
physicians. Graduate students from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health
have also added their voices to the call for "Healthcare not Warfare."
Groups represented at today's action included Physicians for Social
Responsibility, California Physician's Alliance, Healthcare for All
Californians, the Coalition of University Employees, and Justice Through
Public Health. Health Not War also received a statement of support from
Doctors and Nurses Against the War, a national organization of health
Over 300 UCSF faculty, students, and staff have signed a statement of
conscience stating their opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq. The
statement was published in this week's Synapse, the UCSF student
newspaper. Health Not War plans to continue speaking out against the
unjust war on Iraqi civilians and against cuts in health care for our
patients here in the US.
For photos of the San Francisco demonstration, go to
For information about the health and welfare of Iraqi civilians, see