Dozens of incoming medical students at the University of Michigan walked out of the annual White Coat Ceremony on July 24 in protest of the keynote speaker who was a known anti-abortion doctor.
Video footage showed the students leaving the Hill Auditorium at the Michigan institution when Dr. Kristin Collier, an assistant professor and a primary care physician, was introduced.
Detroit resident Brendan Scorpio, who recorded and posted the video, said in an interview with NPR that roughly 70 of the 170 incoming students walked out and some friends and family followed “in solidarity.”
Students from the medical school had earlier filed a petition to the school’s dean, Dr. Marschall Runge, to choose a different keynote speaker.
In response, Runge said that the ceremony was “not a platform for discussion of controversial issues.”
“We would not revoke a speaker because they have different personal ideas than others,” Runge further said.
Collier did not expressly mention abortion in her remarks.
In a statement, Michigan Medicine said that it “will continue to offer reproductive services, including abortion care.”
“Many of the patients we see are diagnosed with fetal anomalies or experience other complications that make ongoing pregnancy and giving birth dangerous, or they have serious underlying illnesses or other needs that make abortion care in an outpatient facility not possible. Our commitment is to be there for those who need the specialized care we can offer,” the institution said.
Abortion is legal in Michigan, but the procedure is subject to a number of restrictions, including a post-viability ban except when the mother’s life is at risk.
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