Physician Profile: Drs. Judith and Donald Broder

Drs. Judith and Donald Broder

Judy Broder believes she attended her first protests while still in the womb and attributes her social consciousness to her progressive New Jersey household. Her physician father and feminist mother encouraged her to pursue a medical education at a time when only a handful of women were admitted to medical school. She entered the College of the University of Chicago at the exceptional age of sixteen where she met upperclassman and Chicago native, Don Broder. She began medical school three years later.

Judy and Don spent their college years arguing about politics and philosophy, besides going to the movies, folk music concerts and parties, and occasionally studying! Together, they were certain about two things: that they would one day be doctors and that they would spend their lives challenging war and social injustice. Today, more than forty-five years after their first date, Drs. Judith and Donald Broder sit on PSR-LA’s board of directors and give their time and unwavering support.

When Don and Judy were married (with two children) and Don was in his Psychiatric residency, the Vietnam War was well underway. Don’s medical deferment had postponed his military service until the completion of his residency in 1966, after which he was commissioned to serve in the Air Force and was stationed in Hawaii. Describing those times, Don says “Then, as now, dissent was frowned upon and free speech was discouraged.”

When Professor Oliver Lee of the University of Hawaii became the target of government action for speaking out against the war, the Broders joined with others in the Honolulu community and organized protests against this erosion of civil liberties and became active in opposition to the Vietnam War.

Judy chaired the Hawaii Peace & Freedom Party and worked with other civil rights organizations. Don recalls, “They called her ‘subversive’ and there was a veiled threat that unless I cooperated and named her associates in her political activities, I might be subject to a dishonorable discharge. They also suggested that I’d be better off if I would divorce her!”

With the advice and support of civilian (and military) friends, the Broders realized that these threats were empty and could never be defended in a court of law. Don refused to cooperate and after many attempts, the military eventually withdrew their pressure. Fro Judy, the interrogation was reminiscent of the time her parents were summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committees (HUAC).

After thirty-five years of working as a psychiatrist in both private practice as well as for the state in a youth prison and then in an adult prison, Don is now retired and preparing for his term as President-elect of PSR-LA’s board of directors beginning January 2006. Judy continues her work in the private practice of psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

The Broders generously open their home to PSR-LA for meetings and events. They are active in several local political groups and Don has a number of ‘letters to the editor’ published in local and national newspapers.

The Broders also enjoy spending time with their three children and five grandchildren, cultivating a new generation of activists: Two sons are physicians, interested in improving the quality of medical care, and their daughter is a landscape architect interested in restoring destroyed environments.

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