Dozens of medical students attending the University of Michigan walked out of a ceremony over the weekend in protest of a keynote speaker who opposes abortion.
Dr. Kristin Collier, an assistant professor of medicine, spoke at the Sunday white coat ceremony, an event in which new medical students are welcomed and given a lab coat. Before the ceremony, more than 340 incoming and current University of Michigan medical students signed a petition opposing Collier as the keynote speaker, according to The Michigan Daily.
The petition states: “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 has shared her opinion about abortion publicly.
“Holding on to a view of feminism where one fights for the rights of all women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable. I can’t not lament the violence directed at my prenatal sisters in the act of abortion, done in the name of autonomy,” she shared on social media earlier this year.
Mary Masson, director of public relations at Michigan Medicine, said in a statement to USA TODAY that the 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,” she added. “However, the University of Michigan does not revoke an invitation to a speaker based on their personal beliefs.”
Video of students walking out of the ceremony has been viewed more than 13 million times on social media.
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Collier was chosen as the speaker by members of the medical school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society, which is made up of medical students, faculty and others, Masson confirmed.
This is not the first time in recent weeks comments on abortion from University of Michigan employees have garnered attention. Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh last week spoke at an anti-abortion event and discussed opposing abortion.
The Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that made abortion legal nationwide, and ruled that there is no constitutional right to abortion.
Contributing: Associated Press