Michigan medical students speak out by anti-abortion speaker
New medical students at the University of Michigan left the school’s white coat ceremony on Sunday when the keynote speaker, a doctor known for anti-abortion rights, took the stage.
A video showing the students in white coats quietly rising from their seats, turning their backs on Dr Kristin Collier and leaving the room has gone viral on social media after being shared by a Twitter user.
The clip has been viewed more than 4.8 million times in less than 24 hours.
The White Coat Ceremony is a traditional event at medical school, in which incoming students receive their first white coat, marking their entry into medicine.
The keynote speaker selected for this year’s event was Dr. Kristin Collier, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan (UM) known for her strong anti-abortion beliefs.
Collier — who is also the director of UM’s medical school program on health, spirituality, and religion — has shared several posts expressing an anti-abortion stance on social media, including posts on Twitter in which she asserted her way of being a feminist by fighting for her “prenatal sisters” who suffered what she describes as “violence in the act of abortion”.
“Stick to a vision of feminism where you fight for the rights of all women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable. I cannot but deplore the violence directed against my prenatal sisters in the act of abortion, done in the name of autonomy,” she wrote in May 2022, later comparing abortion to “oppression.”
According to an interview with the Catholic news site The pillar released on June 24, Collier began her career as a pro-abortion atheist and later became the “committed and openly pro-life Christian” activist she is now.
Many UM medical students interpreted the decision to have Collier as the keynote speaker for this year’s White Coat ceremony as a betrayal of UM’s commitment to defending abortion rights and continue to provide abortion care following Supreme Court reversal. Roe v. Wade in June.
“UM Health remains committed to providing safe, high-quality reproductive health care to patients, for all of their reproductive health needs,” the university pledged in a statement after the end of deer. “This includes abortion care, which remains legal in Michigan as challenges to the state’s various criminal laws continue to rage.”
According to a report by The Michigan Dailyas well as 72 community members, including residents, physicians, graduate students, and University of Michigan medical alumni.
“While we support the rights to freedom of speech and religion, an anti-choice speaker as a representative of the University of Michigan undermines the University’s position on abortion and supports the platform no universal and rooted in theology to restrict access to abortion, an essential part of medical care,” the petition read.
“We demand that [the university] stands in solidarity with us and selects a speaker whose values align with institutional policies, students, and the broader medical community. This speaker should inspire the next generation of health care providers to be courageous advocates for the autonomy of patients and our communities. »
But the university refused to reverse its decision to have Collier as its keynote speaker, saying The Michigan Daily that he could not “revoke an invitation to a speaker based on his personal beliefs”.
Newsweek contacted the UM School of Medicine for comment.
Collier apparently did not mention abortion during her speech. While the video showing the student walkout amassed nearly 280,000 likes, Collier also apparently received support, likely from the anti-abortion rights community, as she suggested in a Twitter post Sunday that she was “really grateful for the support, emails, texts, prayers and letters that I have received from around the world regarding the event that is going to happen today.”
Newsweek has contacted Collier for comment.
Abortion is still legal in Michigan, but the fate of the practice hangs by a thread, as the state has a 1931 law banning it that could now be reinstated.
Under this law, almost all abortions – without exception, even in cases of rape or incest – would be considered a crime, with pregnant women and doctors assisting with abortions facing a penalty of up to to four years in prison.