Dozens of University of Michigan medical students went on strike at their White Coat ceremony this weekend shortly after the keynote speaker — a well-known anti-abortion doctor — began their speech.
Video footage from the annual ceremony at the Hill Auditorium at the Michigan Institute showed Dr. Kristin Collier, an assistant professor of medicine at the university and a self-proclaimed anti-abortion physician, starting her speech at the lectern as lines of white-coated students and some other guests started to walk out of the building.
Medical school students had previously petitioned the school’s dean, Dr. Marschall Runge, to remove Dr. Collier, who is also the director of the university’s program on health spirituality and religion, from the annual ceremony. They called her comments “contrary to the principles of reproductive justice”.
“While supporting the rights of free speech and religion, an anti-election speaker representing the University of Michigan undermines the university’s stance on abortion and supports the non-universal, theologically rooted platform to limit access to abortion , an essential part of medical care,” the letter reads.
“We demand that UM show solidarity with us and select a speaker whose values align with institutional policy, students and the wider medical community.”
The letter also contained anonymous quotes from students who had joined the protest, many of whom selected Dr. Collier cited “serious doubts that the school will continue to advocate for reproductive rights”.
“I’m already concerned that I chose to go to school in a state where I could very well lose my right to a safe abortion, and the decision by the UMMS to have Dr. Collier as the keynote speaker makes this even more so.” scarier,” a student was quoted as saying the petition letter.
“I attend UMMS largely because of their forward-thinking approach to healthcare and education, and choosing to have Dr. Collier as the keynote speaker makes me question my decision,” wrote another student.
However, that petition failed. dr. Runge wrote a letter in response to the “positive and negative feedback” he had received following Dr. Collier as a keynote speaker, saying that academic freedom was more important than any objections from individual students about one’s personal ideas.
“The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues, and Dr. Collier never intended to cover a divisive topic as part of her remarks,” began Dr. runge. “Our values speak of honoring the critical importance of diversity of personal thoughts and ideas, which is fundamental to academic freedom and excellence. We wouldn’t withdraw a speaker because they have different personal ideas than others,” he concluded, before adding that a forum on the “importance of diversity of thought” was being planned at medical school, with more details to be announced shortly. released.
Shortly after the White Coat’s cloaking ceremony was completed and the protesting students left the building, Dr. Collier addressed the controversy surrounding her keynote address Sunday in a tweet without specifically citing it, writing, “truly grateful for the support, emails, texts, prayers and letters I have received from around the world.” about the event that will take place today. I feel so empowered by it. and for my team that has carried me through this every day — I love you.”
During her speech, which was preceded by the 168 medical students who took delivery of their white coats and took the White Coat Pledge, Dr. Collier again alluding to the dispute that led to her speech. However, she never directly petitioned to have her removed from the role.
“I want to acknowledge the deep wounds our community has suffered over the past few weeks,” said Dr. Collier when her speech, which was not about abortion, began. “We have a lot of work to do for healing to take place and I hope for today, for this time, we can focus on what matters most: coming together to support our newly hired students and their families with the aim of welcoming them.” to one of the greatest callings there is on this earth.”
In Michigan, patients wishing to have an abortion must be advised by the state, including information intended to discourage that person from continuing with the procedure. Then they have to wait 24 hours before they can receive it, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Although abortion is legal in the state of Michigan, since the overthrow ofRoe v Wade last month, abortion proponents were concerned that the procedure could become a crime because of a 1931 law that would ban almost all cases of the procedure.
In April, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Dr. Sarah Wallett filed a lawsuit to prevent the 1931 law from taking effect in the state. In May, the Michigan Court of Claims granted a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.
Until a decision is made on the lawsuit, the 1931 law will not be able to go into effect, according to Michigan Radio. However, Michigan’s Right to Life, the Michigan Catholic Conference and two prosecutors have asked the appeals court to lift that order, which would effectively ban the proceedings.