Medical Students Walk Out in Protest of Anti-Abortion Speaker

Dozens of incoming medical students at the University of Michigan walked out of their white coat ceremony Sunday as an anti-abortion keynote speaker was being introduced.

Keynote speaker Dr. Kristin Collier, an assistant professor of medicine who had expressed her anti-abortion views in interviews and tweets, inspired a petition for the university to choose a different speaker, and garnered signatures from 248 current students, 100 incoming students and 72 others, including alumni.

As the director of UM Medical School’s Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion, Collier started her career as a pro-choice atheist. Today she’s a pro-life Christian.

The petition said Collier’s statements “are antithetical to the tenets of reproductive justice as restrictions on abortion affect women of color, other marginalized women, and trans people disproportionately.”

“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,” the petition reads. “This speaker should inspire the next generation of healthcare providers to be courageous advocates for patient autonomy and our communities.”

A spokeswoman for Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan said Collier was “chosen as the keynote speaker for the 2022 White Coat Ceremony based on nominations and voting by members of the U-M Medical School Gold Humanism Honor Society, which is comprised of medical students, house officers and faculty.”

The spokesperson added that the keynote speaker would not be addressing the divisive topic as part of her remarks.

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the university administration and Michigan Medicine published statements affirming they would continue to provide all necessary reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, as long as it was legal in the state of Michigan. 

Last week another University of Michigan employee spoke his pro-life views publicly.

Michigan Daily, NBC, USA Today