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The students’ petition included data from a poll of incoming medical students that found that 91.7% were against having Collier be their white coat ceremony keynote speaker.
The petition highlights the hypocrisy of the university’s public support of abortion access while choosing a speaker “who works to dismantle it.”
“While we support the rights of freedom of speech and religion, an anti-choice speaker as a representative of the University of Michigan undermines the University’s position on abortion and supports the non-universal, theology-rooted platform to restrict abortion access, an essential part of medical care,” the petition reads. “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.
“In order to ‘do no harm’, we must be unambiguous and consistent in our commitment to all aspects of human rights.”
With national protections of abortion rights now overturned, 26 states are expected to ban abortion early in pregnancy or outright, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute. Seven states, including Texas and Mississippi, have already revoked abortion access. On Monday, Indiana’s state legislature began a two-week-long special session on abortion, with multiple bills expected to limit further access.
BuzzFeed News reached out to Collier for comment but was referred to the university’s public affairs department, which said in an email that Collier was nominated by members of the university, comprising “medical students, house officers and faculty.”
Collier is not speaking to the press, according to the university.
“The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues. Its focus will always be on welcoming students into the profession of medicine,” the university said. “Dr. Collier never planned to address a divisive topic as part of her remarks. However, the University of Michigan does not revoke an invitation to a speaker based on their personal beliefs.”