STARKVILLE, Mississippi — A doctor’s speech at Mississippi State University about the “Christian case” for abortion rights was marred by protesters, with a pro-life group and the university’s Catholic Campus Ministry planning to hold a counter-event.

The Commercial Dispatch reported that Thursday the university’s gender studies program hosted Dr. Willie Parker, an OB-GYN who has performed abortions at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.

Parker said science and religion “are not enemies,” and that as a Christian doctor, he feels compelled to offer women safe reproductive health care — including abortions.

Parker said he is more concerned about the health and safety of women who want abortions than about what protesters may think of his morality for providing them.

The university has faced blowback for Parker’s appearance. One protester told Parker during his lecture that he would go to hell. Student groups MSU Students for Life and Catholic Campus Ministry hosted an opposition vigil Thursday.

Students for Life President Annaliese Gill warned others at the vigil not to be “fooled” by Parker.

“He may be a doctor, but his wise words are just trying to cover up his doing,” Gill said. “He is murdering unborn children in our state.”

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum released a statement Wednesday saying the university’s goal is to provide students all viewpoints on controversial issues.

“While some may view this program as objectionable, other members of our campus community would argue that in support of academic freedom, differing opinions on topics of national debate should be heard,” Keenum said. “I believe an objective look at the overall lineup of speakers and events at MSU would be judged fair and balanced with regard to the pro-choice, pro-life debate.”

The university Students for Life and Catholic Campus Ministry will host an anti-abortion event March 6, with keynote speaker and anti-abortion activist Christina Bennett.

Parker’s and Bennett’s lectures, Keenum said, are not funded with taxpayer dollars.