Health and Human Rights

“First, do no harm.”

Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of PSR -LA and Sandra Schwartz, Program Coordinator with AFSC-San Francisco at the State Capitol

Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of PSR -LA and Sandra Schwartz, Program Coordinator with AFSC-San Francisco at the State Capitol

PSR-LA has long promoted socially responsible medicine — from preventive public health measures to providing healthcare for all. Our work through the decades demonstrates a deep commitment to promoting health and safety as a human right — We believe that all communities have the right to quality healthcare, a safe environment to grow, learn, work, and play, free of nuclear threats, violence, and torture.


National local debate on healthcare delivery are constantly being framed within a human rights framework, and PSR-LA is proud to be an a partner in these efforts. Our national organization recently released a statement on healthcare, framing the issues as a clear social responsibility, and highlighting the social determinants of health. As a co-convener of the recent South LA conference on Health and Human Rights, PSR-LA is involved in framing health as a human rights issues, and making sure that local and national policies across issue areas of nuclear threats, the environment, violence and torture, and reflect this.

Gun Violence

Our early work to reduce gun violence began in in 1994, when PSR-LA organized UC-Irvine medical students to protest (and ultimately drive out of business) California’s Saturday Night Special hand-gun manufacturers. PSR-national subsequently launched a violence prevention program of its own. That same year, PSR-LA’s “Cease Fire” conference on firearm violence attracted over 500 people — PSR-LA has trained hundreds of physicians and medical students to identify and counsel those individuals most at risk of gun injury. Read physician profiles that include statements about the gun violence prevention program: PSR-LA Board member Dr. Margaret Wacker, and Dr. Ed. Chung. Also, see archived articles on our gun violence prevention program.


In 2008, “Californians Against Medical Torture,” a medical, legal, and human rights coalition that PSR-LA formed with allied groups, worked with State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas to successfully pass a SJR 19, a resolution which made California the first state in the nation to officially condemn the use of torture since the beginning of the “War on Terror”. Read more about the passage of SJR 19.

The life work and voice as a physician of PSR-LA Board Member Dr. Jose Quiroga was instrumental in passing this landmark state legislation. During our 2009 Gala Dinner, Dr. Quirogra was honored by PSR-LA for his many contributions — he is the co-founder and director of medical services at the Program for Torture Victims (PTV), and serves as a vice-president of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). Read more about Dr. Quiroga.

To read more about State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, click here. For more information on Dr. Jose Quiroga, click here.