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August 2, 1985

Prescriptions for Peace in a Nuclear Age

JAMA. 1985;254(5):660-661. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360050098035

The ethical basis for the current position of the American Medical Association (AMA) on nuclear war stems from its first Code of Medical Ethics that was adopted at the May 1846 meeting shortly after its founding. The Code contained the following provision that remained basically unchanged until 1957: "As good citizens, it is the duty of physicians to be ever vigilant for the welfare of the community, and to bear their part in sustaining its institutions and burdens." The current (1980) "Principles of Medical Ethics" of the AMA states in its preamble, "As a member of this profession, a physician must recognize responsibility not only to patients, but also to society, to other health professionals and to self." Paragraph VII of the Code states, "A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to an improved community."

It was upon this backdrop that the House of Delegates of