- Was a leader of of the Students for a Democratic Society at Harvard University in the 1960s
- Longtime Communist Party member
- Advocates "single-payer," government-run healthcare
Peter Orris is the son of Communist Party member and physician Leo Orris. During the 1960s, Peter served as a northern volunteer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's Mississippi Summer Project; a volunteer with the Council of Federated Organizations (which sought to promote voter registration and other civil rights activities in Mississippi); and a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society at Harvard University, where he was an undergraduate.
Orris subsequently joined the Communist Party (CP). While he was still a Party member in 1987, he collaborated with Quentin Young to establish Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), where he remains a prominent figure to this day.
In 1992 Orris left the Communist Party and shifted his allegiance to the CP splinter group, Committees of Correspondence, where he continues to play a leading role.
Orris currently practices Internal Medicine in Chicago. He is a strong advocate of "single-payer," government-run healthcare. He holds several union advisory roles and has close ties with the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, UNITE-HERE, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the American Public Health Association, the Public Health Committee of the Chicago Medical Society, the Illinois State Medical Society, the American College of Physicians, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). On June 25, 2009, Orris was one of several doctors from the Doctors Council of SEIU who traveled to Washington, DC to participate in a massive Capitol Hill rally in behalf of healthcare reform.
Orris also serves alongside Quentin Young on the Advisory Board of the National Physicians Alliance. In addition, he is Professor and Associate Director of the Great Lakes Center for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, based at the University Of Illinois School Of Public Health.
Orris' sister, Maxine Orris, is a New York physician who received her medical training in Fidel Castro's Cuba.