Med students walk out on speaker because she’s “pro life”, but wasn’t talking about it

July 27, 2022 • 12:45 pm

The situation I’ll address here is summarized in an article on Bari Weiss’s Substack,  “The message America’s future doctors need to hear”  by Vinay Prasad, associate professor of Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School. It refers to a student mass protest of a speaker at the University of Michigan medical school’s “white coat ceremony.” In this ceremony, entering students don their white doctor’s coat for the first time and take a Hippocratic oath. There’s a speaker, too, but this one was the subject of protest because she is “pro life”, i.e. anti-abortion. The details:

Dr. Kristin Collier is an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, where she has served on faculty for 17 years. She also is the director of the medical school’s Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion and has been published in publications including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Many describe her as a consummate physician and superb teacher—deeply liked and respected by her peers. That’s why, out of some 3,000 faculty at Michigan, Dr. Collier was chosen by students and her peers to be this year’s White Coat Ceremony speaker. The White Coat ceremony is one bookend of medical school (graduation is the other), where students put on their white coats for the first time, take a modified Hippocratic oath and begin the long path to becoming a doctor.

The trouble is that Professor Collier has views on abortion that are out of step with many Michigan medical students—likely the majority of them. She has stated that she defines herself as pro-life, though she does not state the extent of her position (i.e. whether she allows exemptions for rape or incest). In that same interview, in which she talks about her personal transformation from a pro-choice atheist to a Christian, she laments the intolerance for religious people among medical colleagues. “When we consider diversity in the medical profession, religious diversity is not—should not—be exempt from this goal.”

I’m wondering why the students chose Collier if many didn’t want her to speak. Importantly, she wasn’t going to speak about abortion—that was made clear by the administration before the ceremony—but she was still deemed unacceptable for many students:

. . . hundreds of students and staff from [signed] a petition demanding Dr. Collier be replaced with another speaker. “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,” they wrote. “We demand that UM stands in solidarity with us and selects a speaker whose values align with institutional policies, students, and the broader medical community.”

And when Collier rose to speak, many students simply walked out. This was not a spontaneous reaction to what she was saying, but a planned demonstration, which is legal but which I see as disruptive (nevertheless, I don’t think it should be banned). Here’s a video showing the action:

There are several issues here, including the students assertion that the University has an official position on abortion.  While the University can and probably does perform abortions, that’s different from taking an official stand on it, for that chills the speech of people who are “pro life”. As readers here know, I’m a hard-line pro-choicer, and so disagree strongly with Dr. Collier’s views on that issue.  But I would still go to her talk, and I wouldn’t walk out.

Further, there’s the idea that if someone expresses a view you don’t like, you should boycott that person. I don’t agree with that view, either. The proper way to deal with this talk would have been either not to go, picket outside, or write letters countering Collier’s views. Those are non-disruptive ways of addressing the disagreement. Walking out is intended to discombobulate the speaker (to express numerical opposition, just picket outside). But the students did have a right to walk out.

Finally, there’s the issue of free speech—not in the First Amendment sense, as nobody violated the Constitution here. I’m talking about the value of allowing people to speak with whom you disagree, on the chance that you might either change your mind, hone your own opposition, or (especially in this case) learn something. Remember, Collier was not going to talk about abortion.

This is free speech in the “On Liberty” sense as outlined by John Stuart Mill. These students clearly haven’t absorbed that, nor do they have any time to listen to anyone with whom they disagree on the issue of abortion.

The students here are the ones who lost out, and I feel sorry for them. Yes, they made their point, but the main point I absorbed is the Manichaean view that Dr. Collier is one of the “bad ones,” and thus is not worth hearing. If everyone holds this view, everyone will wind up walking out on everybody, for there is nobody with whom we’ll agree on everything. I’ll listen to Liz Cheney talk about Trump even though I’m opposed to many of her views as a Republican.

In the end, akk debates will end, and we’ll wind up having a fragmented, authoritarian society riven by adhering to one of Lukianoff and Haidt’s three great untruths: “Life is a battle between good people and evil people”.

The quick take: students plugged their ears and went “nyah nyah nyah nyah.”

78 thoughts on “Med students walk out on speaker because she’s “pro life”, but wasn’t talking about it

  1. ” If everyone holds this view, everyone will wind up walking out on everybody…” There it is, a
    perfect summation of woketopia. BTW, the students’ cry that words on any subject in a U. Michigan event by a wrongthinker “undermines the University’s position on abortion” illustrates exactly why the University should not assert official positions on matters of ideology.

      1. Look, you’re new here, so don’t come bulling your way into the comments to call other people idiots. And I already said that the students had the right to walk out.

        The woman is not an “idiot”, regardless of whether you disagree with her views on abortion.

        If you don’t tone down your negativity, you’ll have to leave.

      2. If I had boycotted every lecturer and every teacher and every book author with whose or some of whose political and/or moral views I strongly disagreed, I would have stayed uneducated.

  2. She also is the director of the medical school’s Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion

    Department of Witch-doctory? Hopefully, only in America.

    I’m wondering why the students chose Collier if many didn’t want her to speak.

    How many voted? How many were eligible to vote? And what were the balloting procedures?

    And does anyone know a Latin phrase for “the devil is in the details”? (Google : “Diabolus in details” ; which back-transltes properly, but it sounds like Google is not very good at Latin.)

    1. Incoming students didn’t vote because they were not part of the student body when this prof was chosen.

    2. I don’t know if the University has a position on abortion, so stating that they do may have beeb a misstatement. The medical school and its hospital ought to have a position on legal medical procedures, and have such positions publically available and without apology. They are delivering medical care to the public. The public needs to know what their position is on legal medical procedures, esoecially those which have been politicized.

      Their actions fell under expression. They did not disrupt her presentation by shouting over her or other such anti-speech actions. The speaker is not simply someone who happens to be anti-abortion in their private life, such that calling her on it is inappropriate if that is not the topic of her presentation. She has been publicly vocal about her anti-abortion religious beliefs. So I understand why some students made that choice. It sounded rather low-key and polite. If only all protests were as genteel…

      1. This was supposed to be a general comment, not a response to Gravel. Fumble fingering on my smart phone.

    3. I feel a bit ‘shamed for saying so, but in these days a chance to comment during the voting process would help prevent these melt-downs, which are mainly embarrassing for the school. A definite sign of dissent along ideological lines in the comments would mean to quietly move on to the next speaker.

        1. I think its permissible to not invite a speaker. Once done, of course the invitation should not be rescinded.

        2. Absolutely. This is not a question of free speech. This is a medical professional saying she will not use the best available treatment for certain conditions due to her irrational beliefs. I certainly would not want this doctor treating me. Were I entering medical school I would certainly not want to be taught by such a person. Glad the students walked out. Her positions on abortion call into question her judgment and ability to function as a licensed professional.

          1. This is a medical professional saying she will not use the best available treatment for certain conditions due to her irrational beliefs.

            I don’t think we know that. We don’t know what she would do faced with the situation where the patient’s life is at risk if she doesn’t not have an abortion.

            I certainly would not want this doctor treating me.

            Unless you’re pregnant and seeking an abortion, why des it matter?

            Were I entering medical school I would certainly not want to be taught by such a person.

            She’s acknowledged as one of the best teachers at the school. Why would you deny yourself the opportunity to learn from the best on any subject other than abortion?

            Her positions on abortion call into question her judgment and ability to function as a licensed professional.

            Possibly, but you don’t know. You can’t know unless you listen to what she has to say. For all you know her position might be “I’m against abortion, but I would do it if the mother’s life is at risk”.

            Being wrong about abortion doesn’t make her an evil person. It doesn’t mean we should shun her or even censor her views on abortion specifically. I sometimes wonder about these deplatforming protests that the “progressive” left seem to like. What exactly are they afraid of? If these views are so obviously bad why care about the people making fools of themselves by expounding them in public. If you listen to Dr. Collier, are you concerned that you might be taken in and start agreeing with her views on abortion? To me that would suggest you are not confident she is wrong.

          2. Being pregnant is not a medical condition. The majority of doctors refuse to use the best available treatment in case of unbearable suffering and death wish, euthanasia, because of irrational beliefs (suffering animals get it, yet humans who clamour for it are refused). If only the pro-choice crowd were as vocal in this area, too.

        3. She actually gave an awesome talk, Jerry.. As advertised, nothing on abortion or religion and only vaguely spiritual in a “you have to meet the patient where she is and know what’s important to her; it’s about her, not you” sort of way. If the students boycott her clinics and preceptoring to which they are assigned later on in school they will miss out on a lot….and it being a medical school they may find themselves in more professional trouble than they bargained for.

          One of the deanery speakers before her, proud of her own pronouns, did manage to get in a little dig at her off-stage views but still held the line that such views must be listened to respectfully. Still, I thought it was punching down because Dr. Collier as invited speaker was the only one on the stage who was not a senior administrator with deanery-level power.

          (Slipping this in after the fuss has died down to keep my posts under 10%.)

    4. Diabolus autem per singula would be the best translation, I’d think, but there might be better ones. My Latin was never outstanding, and it is definitely rusty too now, I’m not really using that language on a daily basis anymore.

  3. “Woketopia” would be, of course, dystopian, and the increasingly strident fundamentalists in this totalizing and totalitarian cult of moralizing and fanatical zealots have nothing but contempt for the idea of freedom of expression and the ability to tolerate opinions with which one does not agree, nor is the concept of reasoned debate anything which they seem capable of understanding, while some have even likened many of today’s universities to madrassas of “wokeness”.

  4. This is in some ways similar to the question of whether to remove names and statues of historical people from public display. One solution is to weigh their pluses and minuses to see if they end up a net positive.
    In this case, it would appear that her one negative is probably outweighed by her positives. If it were someone else, say, Dr. Stella Immanuel (Trump liked her even after she claimed drugs were being made from alien DNA, and other insane claims), I wouldn’t attend.

    1. Who says her views on abortion must count as a negative? Just because you disagree with them? That’s not what Jerry’s two-question test means.

      The med students are going to find out in the real world that they don’t get to cancel their patients just because their patients have objectionable (to them) views. They can get a professor silenced and fired but if they try that with patients they will lose their licences. There’s even language in the Hippocratic Oath that proscribes what they did, unless their “modified” version lets them off the hook.

      A bush-league, unprofessional performance by the U of Michigan doctors-to-be. If I was Dean, it would be a TANAKA moment. (Take a name and kick ass.). Even if Constitutionally protected for everyone else, conduct that violates norms of a self-regulating profession can be the subject of academic discipline.

      1. Walking out on a speech by a forced-birther murderer is not even remotely in the same league as refusing to treat a patient. False equivalency.

        And, just in case you haven’t noticed, it is the forced-birthers who are refusing to treat patients, not pro-choicers. And, not only are they refusing to treat patients, they are refusing to allow others to treat them.

        And they are liars to boot. First, it was overturn Roe, and “let the states decide”. Then, right on the heels of that decision, they are trying to get a national forced-birther law passed.

        And they are also trying to get procedures and medicines outlawed even when they are not used for abortions, because they are the same procedures and medicines that can be used for abortions.

        Walking out on a speech is small potatoes compared to all of that.


      2. Collier’s views on abortion are a negative–bible humpers like Collier negatively impact women’s reproductive heathcare.

  5. Another ripple effect of overturning Roe v. Wade. It is the young adults who are most affected by the SCOTUS decision, and this kind of reaction isn’t really a surprise. I agree that it is disruptive and doesn’t do any good. And I imagine the split between pro and anti-abortion people will only widen and the anger will grow. Especially with the Woke litmus tests that abound; add anti-abortion people to the list of the unworthy. When abortion was legal, it was only the anti-abortion people who were riled up, and there weren’t that many who were activists. Now you have the pro-abortion people riled up and there are a hell of a lot more of them.

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

  6. Listen, debate, be polite I believe it is not pc to harangue a speaker. Listen to the views. As Haida tried to implement

      1. Staying did not mean an endorsement of any one of her personal beliefs as they were not the topic of her speech. Walking out meant they missed out on hearing the professional thoughts of a woman who sounds incredibly credentialed and widely experienced in many things medical. The impact of the walk out, positive or negative, will never be measurable, but it was damned disrespectful since she had been invited to be there.

  7. I keep wondering how many women have to die before the term “pro-life” dies with them.


    1. Since they believe every fertilized egg saved is an equally important life saved, they would say the math doesn’t work in your favor.

      1. Every fertilized egg is not a life saved. Many of those fertilized eggs will kill their mothers and not make it to term.

        Plus, many of those fertilized eggs that might have been saved along the way won’t be because those same people hate the idea of prenatal care.


      2. Re: “they believe every fertilized egg saved is an equally important life”: Which is nonsense, because abortion is the routine, common outcome of procreative sex. I only have a background in evolutionary biology; I’m not a medical doctor. Yet I know this fact–more human embryos–perfectly healthy embryos–are generated than are ever born.

        “A synthesis of many large-scale studies from the last 15 years unambiguously confirms the Wood-Boklage-Holman hypothesis that abortion is an intrinsic and overarching component of human reproduction. It is the most common outcome of conception across a woman’s lifetime and the predominant factor controlling age-specific variation in human female fertility. To reproduce, a human female cannot forgo a high risk of abortion, and to have a large family it is virtually impossible to avoid multiple abortions. Modern birth control with access to elective abortions, markedly reduces –rather than increases– the lifetime number of abortions a woman produces.”:–“The high abortion cost of human reproduction”, by Dr. William R. Rice, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

  8. I do think protests inside the room where someone is speaking should be disallowed. Entry into a room where someone is about to give a talk implies wanting to hear it and acceptance of the speaker. Moreover, it is an implicit acceptance of the venue’s rules. All objections should be done outside. It’s a matter of respecting the rights of the audience and the speaker. For the same reason, no one wanting to enter the building to hear the talk should be prevented from entering by protestors.

    It probably makes sense to allow protests within some venues, such as city council meetings, but even then there have to be rules. For example, once someone has the floor, they should be allowed to speak. The organizer gets to make the rules.

    I think this parallels your argument against protestors who disturb their targets at restaurants. People should have the right to go about their business in a normal way. In any situation where non-targets will be damaged collaterally (eg, friends and family members at dinner, the audience at a talk) should not be legal.

    When I say “not legal”, I don’t mean jailed but at least ejected from the venue.

    Just my opinion, as always.

  9. Let’s say you are a pro-life doctor, Should you be allowed to refuse treatment to a pro-choice person? And vice-versa?

    1. If you’re a “pro-life” doctor, according to current law, you can refuse treatment to a woman who is dying in front of you, because if you treat her, you might go to jail.


        1. Your one-word reply to my point doesn’t address the point.

          Do you think the case of the ten-year-old in Ohio didn’t happen? The doctor was blocked from treating her by Ohio law, and she had to get a colleague in Indiana to help her.

          And that colleague DID help that child, at which point the Indiana Attorney General went after the Indiana doc with a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations and threats of investigations, while the non-medical forced birthers in Indiana were braying for her license.

          Even the so-called policy of not conducting investigations in public went out the window on that one. Let’s throw in a little character assassination along with our misogyny, why don’t we.


          1. The girl was not dying. Your statement that a doctor anywhere in the United States would refuse treatment to a dying woman is nonsense.

            1. She wasn’t dying right at that moment.

              How many ten-ear-old bodies do you think would be capable of carrying a pregnancy to term and delivering successfully without dying or doing massive damage to her body if she survived?

              The problem right now that is beginning to surface is that interventions are being delayed until the mother is in extremis, when earlier intervention would have prevented the brush with death.

              What right does anyone have to put someone through that risk when it could be prevented?


        2. I have been following cases across the US daily. It is true that women who are having medical emergencies are not receiving the immediate care a physician would ordinarily provide. Lawyers for hospitals are telling physicians not to treat women who the physician believes requires treatment. They want to wait until the woman is closer to death, because they are afraid of lawsuits. I wish it was nonsense. Unfortunately, it is happening. Women will die because of this.

          1. Oh dear. Yes, I can imagine. Horrible laws, plus a legal system plus practice that renders people essentially unable to do their jobs and make necessary ad fast discretionary decisions because of the fear of litigation. Not only in this instance and not only in medicine.

        3. Re: “Nonsense”: Not nonsense at all. Linda Calhoun is correct. In backwards bible-humping states like Texas, pregnant women who are experiencing a complication, have to be near death before they are helped.

          https://www .npr .org/sections/health-shots/2022/07/26/1111280165/because-of-texas-abortion-law-her-wanted-pregnancy-became-a-medical-nightmare

    2. The TL;DR answer in No. Doctors are created in order to serve the public and are trusted to self-regulate in the public interest. But…

      No doctor is required to take on any patient, except in an emergency or if she has a contract with a hospital requiring her to treat every patient the hospital assigns within her scope of competence. Refusal for any reason to treat in those circumstances would be professional misconduct.

      A doctor who screened new prospective patients about their views on abortion as a criterion for acceptance into the practice would probably attract the unpleasant attention of the self-regulator. It could also be illegal discrimination by creed or religion under state or provincial civil/human rights laws that apply to all who serve the public.

      Additionally, if a doctor has commenced a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor must be very careful how the relationship is terminated so as not to constitute abandonment, in addition to the civil/human rights. A doctor can’t terminate a relationship if the patient needs and wants continuing care for an active problem.

      Patients are of course free to ask a doctor anything they want and can refuse or terminate a relationship at any time for any reason, including the doctor’s race or her views on abortion. This is what I think the U of Mich. students are going to discover the hard way: a patient will say, “No affirmative action doctor is gonna operate on me,” and there won’t be a damn thing the doctor can do about it, other than try to find a colleague who can sub in. Quickly.

      1. This is false.

        If a state has outlawed a procedure, a doctor may not perform it. If the procedure is murder under law, the doctor performing the procedure can be prosecuted.

        1. Clarify what you think is false. Even if a doctor may not lawfully carry out a specific procedure that the patient wants, she cannot abandon a patient in her care.

  10. It is possible that her talk would have implications for abortion given the ways that religion intersects with attitudes to abortion, her stated transition from atheist to Christian, and her role as Christian director of a possibly questionable program in a medical school (depending on how taught). Could she talk for example about how important it is in medicine to respect people’s religious worldview (perhaps implying doctors as well)? Here in Canada there have been controversies over doctors not referring patients because of the doctors’ religious objections. Medically assisted dying is one.

    As for walking out, why should they be denied participation in other aspects of the ceremony, such as donning the white coat? Would be interesting to know as well the proportion of males and females who participated. Perhaps the way to address this given the known objections before hand was to accommodate somehow people who did not want to attend the talk. A “break” … the talk … another “break.”

    I don’t often disagree with you Jerry, but this is an exception.

  11. While I personally would not do it, nor would I have had a sit in protesting the Vietnam war. (Wrong country and not quite old enough).

    As protests go it was quiet and respectful was it not?

  12. Coddling. I would assume that attending the ceremony, including the oath taking, would be a prerequisite for continuing in the program.
    Perhaps they should, as part of the admissions process, include a statement to the effect of “During the course of this program, you might encounter people who do not share your opinions on all political issues. Learning to maintain professional behavior when confronted with such challenges is part of the learning process”
    Reading a bit about the department, and a couple of articles by Dr. Collier, I have to admit that such a department can play an important role in a medical education. A physician is going to encounter patients who hold a diversity of religious views, and those views will need to be considered in treatment decisions.

  13. A doctor who is publicly opposed to safe and necessary medical procedures should not be addressing medical students. Period. Imagine that she publicly opposed chemotherapy or vaccinations — that’s her right, but she shouldn’t be teaching, mentoring, or otherwise interacting with future doctors. Abortion is no different, even if some religious believers claim that it is because of their own religious beliefs.

    1. A doctor who objects to chemotherapy or vaccinations for religious reasons probably wouldn’t publicly argue that they should be prohibited to people who aren’t members of the same religion. Instead, they’d be making a poorly-supported scientific case that they’re bad science. Abortion is different because a doctor could agree with all the science but still consider it immoral. It’s not about impurity, but unjustified killing.

      In my opinion the scientific evidence doesn’t support “personhood” at conception. Abortion should be safe, legal, and pretty much on demand. But my concept of what it means to be a person doesn’t include potential and whether it should or not gets into philosophy, not science — and doesn’t even necessarily get specifically into religion.

      I wonder what the reaction would have been if the speaker had performed abortions herself, though considering them ethically regrettable.

  14. “. . . she laments the intolerance for religious people among medical colleagues.”

    This is a bit surprising since most hospitals seem to be run by religious organizations. When my father was in St. Joseph’s Hospital, I noticed that every room had a cross on the wall. When my father-in-law was in St. John’s Hospital, fifty miles away, every room (even the janitor’s closet) had a crucifix on the wall. All the medical facilities near me have a cross as part of their logos.

  15. I’m not religious, but I think the enthusiasm for abortion echoed in some of the comments needs to be tempered by the acknowledgment that *something* is being killed in an abortion. Even if you give the fetus the moral weight of a puppy, that’s still 1 million puppies being killed each year.

    1. Even if you give the fetus the moral weight of a puppy, that’s still 1 million puppies being killed each year

      I do not know how many puppies are killed each year (by abandonment, by overfull animal shelters, etc.), but regardless I do not see much protest about those killings. And maybe we should also consider animal experimentation (which does include the occasional fluffy puppy) in the “moral” calculation; and maybe also meat eating. What’s the “moral weight” of an adult cow?

      Yes, a successful abortion does kill something, but one’s personal “moral” judgement can rank that something anywhere between a human being and an internal parasite.

  16. “There are several issues here, including the students assertion that the University has an official position on abortion.”

    This is a very late comment but I wonder if Jerry saw the news today that the University of North Carolina has adopted essentially the Kalven report and its principles.

  17. I don’t believe in being polite to people who advocate taking away the rights of half the population based on their superstitions.

  18. I, of course, ONLY want to listen to speakers I disagree with.

    This is not even about protest. Thought exp: Fundamental Christians believe the Bible is the word of god. The bible endorses slavery. Therefore I will never engage or listen to a fundamental christian on anything. Even if they are talking about something else… Wow. Because they are fundamentally (puns!) bad people, and always will be.

    And ‘free speech’ – we will walk out, not attend her lectures, maybe protest her getting other jobs or appointments – so how does she live, make a living, feed her family? We have a case here (Australia) of footballers not wanting to wear a rainbow logo for an LGBTQI+ round. There are calls for them to be sacked. So they can never play football at any club? Ok, they become a carpenter. No, I won’t use him because of his views. Hmmm – can’t make a living there – what can they do? (Funnily, even if they recant, and become ‘right-minded’ they have the mark of cain, and will still be shunned – no salvation is possible).

    For the record, which should be unnecessary – I am strongly pro-choice, strongly pro-LGBTQI+ rights, and (very) strongly free speech (and quite anti-religion).

    Can’t post a long post here, but this is such an easy issue – but strawmen on both sides and bad arguments and ideologies (again, both ‘sides’) prevent good faith (!) dialogue and progress.

  19. I shall not address the abortion issue (I have commented here before that I have performed several, referred hundreds, and that since I don’t believe in an afterlife I am content to live with any acts of harm reduction I have performed). But the attitude of those students is ridiculous! The entitlement of medical students here terrifies me. They introduce themselves to patients as ‘Doctor ———’ when they are not. Giving them white coats on their first day and a pretend Hippocratic Oath doesn’t help. And by the way, the oath Hippocrates wrote contains a line about not giving a woman a pessary (to cause an abortion). That’s why the Hippocratic Oath was not administered to medical students in the UK for decades, though now it has crept back as some kind of showmanship. But first day students thinking they know better than a senior doctor who is going to be one of their teachers? The issue is not abortion there, the issue is respect. If you don’t have respect for your teachers two things will happen: you won’t learn anything from them, and they won’t bother to teach anymore.
    Yes, I know, get offa my lawn! and all that. But this is basic stuff that keeps a society glued together. Those kids starting out thinking they know best will kill more patients by accident than those who listen and learn along the long, long road to knowing, mostly, what you are doing.

  20. Walking out is disruptive, and just the right amount of disruptive. It’s one act of free speech (in a broad sense, the way burning a flag, or waving one, are) in answer to another. The severity of the issue merits it – bear in mind that the removal of abortion rights is just one leading edge of a plan to turn the clock back on women’s rights by a long way.

    And if you think the Christian fundamentalists and other patriarchy advocates don’t have enough of a majority to put women back in the 19th century, think again. They have all the majority they need – 6 to 3 – and the willingness to read, or refuse to read, the Constitution in any way necessary to reach the outcomes they like. It is possible to reform the Supreme Court, but only if the majority of Americans recognize the threats to their rights and make a big enough clamor about it.

    1. Non of this should be dependent on the Supreme Court, and I think packing it would increase polarization even further. It is not a good idea to change the rules when they no longer work in one’s favor. The other side will do it, too.
      The American public is badly served by its political class. There would be a huge popular majority for abortion on demand within the first trimester for the typical case, no time limit in case of danger to the mother and some other special cases, like rape/incest/severe embryo defects/age of the mother below 14/maternal mental health problems. Isn’t it possible to hold a referendum?

      1. “The other side will do it, too.” With respect to changing the rules when they don’t work in one’s favor, the future tense is not appropriate there. Packing the court is not the only option, by the way, but I do think it’s a good one.

  21. The walkout seems perfectly appropriate to me, and a good example of free speech. The purpose of a demonstration is to garner attention for a point of view. Obviously, this was quite effective. And on the other hand the speech was not prevented; some students made a much more effective statement than the petition. Good for them.

    1. I hope that they will arrive on time for morning hospital rounds with the same alacrity with which they exited the gathering. But there are those among them whose delicate sensibilities are so exquisitely offended at having that expectation required of them.

  22. Many here seem to think that a walkout is a perfectly acceptable kind of protest because it has no cost to others. After all, anyone in attendance has the right to walk out. However, what if the meeting was full and legitimate would-be audience members were turned away at the door? Effectively, they would have been deprived of their right to listen to the speaker.

    Once a speaker has been invited to speak, and an audience gathered to listen to her, the rights of both the speaker and the audience should be respected. Protests should be held outside unless the venue deliberately invites inside protest. Even then the venue’s rules must be followed.

    1. However, what if the meeting was full and legitimate would-be audience members were turned away at the door

      When a venue cares about overcrowding it can issue tickets ahead of time, and even restrict them to “legitimate” attendees. But then there are serious legal and practical constraints on deciding who is legitimate. There could be serious civil-rights violations in profiling ticket applicants to try to weed out agitators, even if that were possible.

      1. Yes, I wasn’t suggesting weeding them out. As you say, that might be impractical. I was merely pointing out that this kind of protest has other kinds of harms that might not be recognized. If there are no other ways to prevent walkout protests, we can always fall back on shaming.

  23. You are way off the mark here. Anyone supporting forced births upon women are doing nothing but forcing region on to others. The white coat celebration is FOR the coming class not for any of the presenters and i see absolutely nothing wrong with the students making a strong and clear statement that religion is not compatible with medical science. Gving a platform for those willing to FORCE their religious beliefs on women is 100% unacceptable…Just because woke can go wring does not make everything woke bad or wrong. We are heading for a world in which all kinds of rights are going to be taken away and sadly mostly by the extreme right wing religious movement that are now using WOKE as a new banner to rally around. Dont become nothing but a tool

    1. You did read my piece, right? It was about somebody having the right to speak (NOT about abortion in this case) and why we should listen to people who hold opposing views. In this case the speaker wasn’t even talking about abortion. You did read that I said the students had the right to walk out, right? The students were not making a statement that religion is incompatible with medical science; they were objecting to the speaker’s views on abortion which she expressed elsewhere. I suspect, in fact, that many of those students were religious.

      As for not giving a plaform to anyone whose views oppose yours, well, that’s not up my alley. I suppose you would ban from speaking everybody who has expressed (elsewhere) political views that you don’t agree with.

      You are a person opposed to free speech unless it agrees with you. Plus you apparently didn’t even read the post you’re objecting to. Practice reading comprehension and then go argue about John Stuart Mill.

  24. When I see this …

    “She has stated that she defines herself as pro-life, though she does not state the extent of her position (i.e. whether she allows exemptions for rape or incest). “

    I hope to see the obverse case included somewhere, for fairness and balance:

    “Protesting students defined themselves as pro-choice, though they did not state the extent of their position (i.e. whether or not they advocate legal aborting of a healthy, viable baby in late term, for any justification whatsoever the woman cites.)”

  25. IMHO, the walk out was a less effective form of advocating for abortion rights than other alternatives. I get that a petition and a walk out are easier ways to get to critical mass for public attention than more engaged alternatives. But protesting outside, publicly fund raising for abortion access, or supporting reproductive education would be more effective at supporting abortion access than a walk out. On top of that, the walk out did promote intolerance of hearing out opposing views, so I argue against it.

    Echoing from above. The walkout & reaction to it in this thread are the result of SCOTUS overturning Roe v Wade. People are scared for the women who will be denied abortions, and that escalates the intensity of view points. Personally, I hope the common ground to move forward on is improving access to reproductive care, with an emphasis on contraception, and pre-natal care for would be mothers.

    Also noting that >1/2 of US abortions are now “medication” abortions. For better or worse, medical abortions are relatively more available than a surgical procedure. My speculation is that no matter what abortion plans are enacted in the US, medication abortions will continue to be available.

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