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Dozens of incoming University of Michigan Medical School students walked out of a pro-life keynote speaker’s address, after a previous petition to get the speaker removed failed.
Shortly after Dr. Kristin Collier, a pro-life assistant professor of medicine at UMMS, took to the stage Sunday to address the new students at their White Coat Ceremony, several dozen people got up from their seats and headed for the auditorium doors, video of the ceremony showed.
A video of the walkout on Twitter quickly amassed over 200K likes.
Collier’s speech was not expected to focus on abortion, but some students petitioned the school weeks prior to remove her as the keynote speaker over her support for the unborn.
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“I want to acknowledge the deep wounds our community has suffered over the past several weeks,” Collier started her speech, which could have been a veiled reference to the controversy surrounding the protest or the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“We have a great deal of work to do for healing to occur,” she continued, the National Review reported. “And I hope that for today, for this time, we can focus on what matters most: coming together to support our newly accepted students and their families with the goal of welcoming them into one of the greatest vocations that exist on this earth.”
The protesting group included students, donning their medical white coats, and some parents. The school said 168 new medical students attended the initiation ceremony and took the White Coat Pledge and the Hippocratic Oath.
The petition to remove Collier, who is also the director of the UMMS Program on Health Spirituality & Religion, was ultimately denied by the school’s dean, Dr. Marschall Runge.
In his decision, he expressed the “critical importance of diversity of personal thought and ideas, which is foundational to academic freedom and excellence,” according to the report.
The students, in the actions they displayed Sunday, expressed their disapproval of his decision.
According to the report, Dr. Collier made no mention of abortion, Roe v. Wade, or any political topic during her keynote speech. She simply encouraged students and parents and offered them advice on what to expect as they begin their careers in the healthcare field.
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Ahead of the event, Collier thanked her supporters for encouraging her and helping her prepare for the speech.
University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh similarly sparked backlash for his pro-life views after he shared those views at a Right to Life event.
“I believe in having the courage to let the unborn be born,” he said via, Detroit Catholic. “I love life. I believe in having a loving care and respect for life and death. My faith and my science are what drives these beliefs in me. Quoting from Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”
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Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan-owned academic and medical center, continues to provide abortion services as abortion remains legal in the state.