Many attendees at a University of Michigan (UM) induction ceremony for its incoming medical school students walked out in protest of the keynote speaker because of her anti-abortion views.
A viral tweet of a video showed dozens of medical students and other audience members getting up and walking out when Dr. Kristin Collier, a pro-life assistant professor of medicine at UM Medical School, approached the podium to deliver the keynote speech.
Incoming medical students walk out at University of Michigan’s white coat ceremony as the keynote speaker is openly anti-abortion pic.twitter.com/Is7KmVV811
— Scorpiio (@PEScorpiio) July 24, 2022
The announcement of Collier’s role in the White Coat Ceremony caused serious backlash. Critics started a petition to replace the professor, garnering 420 signatures from current and incoming students, as well as UM alumni.
“While we support the rights of 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 non-universal, theology-rooted platform to restrict abortion access, an essential part of medical care,” the petition read.
“This is not simply a disagreement on personal opinion. Through our demand, we are standing up in solidarity against groups who are trying to take away human rights and restrict medical care.”
Collier’s Abortion Views
Collier has previously expressed her views on abortion through various mediums. In a tweet published May 4, Collier argued that “liberation that costs innocent lives is just oppression that is redistributed.”
She also shared her conversion from “secular humanist” to “pro-life person” during an interview with The Pillar, a Catholic publication.
“My conversion to a pro-life person came much later,” Collier recounted. “I had been challenged on my views by my husband after his conversion, but I had difficulty accepting the truth of what abortion was after having had such firmly entrenched views for so many decades.”
The university defended its choice despite the disparity between Collier’s views and UM’s inclusion of abortion in its healthcare program. School leaders said that “The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues.”
“Its focus will always be on welcoming students into the profession of medicine. Dr. Collier never planned to address a divisive topic as part of her remarks. However, the University of Michigan does not revoke an invitation to a speaker based on their personal beliefs,” the statement added.