Pro-abortion students at the University of Michigan Medical School failed to stop a widely-respected professor from giving a speech Sunday because of her pro-life views.
However, a group did walk out of the White Coat Ceremony for in-coming medical students as Dr. Kristin Collier stood up to speak, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
A video of their protest went viral on social media later in the day, showing several people in white coats walking out of the ceremony. Others displayed a large banner over the balcony that read: “Bans Off Our Bodies. Abortion Rights Now.”
Collier, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, is pro-life, but she did not mention anything about abortion in her keynote address, according to the report.
Her personal beliefs in human rights for unborn babies still made her a target.
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Ahead of the ceremony, the pro-abortion group Medical Students for Choice circulated a petition demanding that she be uninvited to speak, claiming her pro-life position is “antithetical to the tenets of reproductive justice.”
But the university refused. In a letter to faculty, students and fellows, Dean Marschall Runge defended Collier and diverse points of view. He said the U-M Medical School Gold Humanism Honor Society chose Collier to speak because she represents “humanistic patient care” and serves as a role model, mentor and leader in medicine.
“The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues, and Dr. Collier never planned to address a divisive topic as part of her remarks,” Runge wrote, according to the letter published on the Mirror of Justice blog. “Our values speak about honoring the critical importance of diversity of personal thought and ideas, which is foundational to academic freedom and excellence.”
According to the Beacon, Collier has been a professor at the university since 2005 and has written articles for prestigious medical journals.
A number of students and colleagues defended her from the backlash. Speaking with the Beacon, family medicine professor Dr. William Chavey said the criticism Collier has received is “narrow-minded and inappropriate.”
“Dr. Collier’s views, described by [Medical Students for Choice] as fringe, are shared by roughly half of the population,” Chavey said. “Current and entering medical students will encounter many patients and have numerous colleagues with whom they may disagree over this topic. They cannot all be canceled.”
After the ceremony, Collier posted a message on Twitter to thank everyone who supported her.
She said she is “truly grateful for the support, emails, texts, prayers and letters I’ve received from all over the world regarding the event that will happen today. I feel so bolstered by it. and for my team that have carried me daily thru this —I love you.”