Catholic University Fires Professor for Inviting ‘Abortion Doula’

News: US News
by Church Militant  •  •  February 1, 2024   

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WASHINGTON ( – The Catholic University of America (CUA) recently terminated a professor's contract after the professor invited an "abortion doula" to guest lecture.

Melissa Goldberg

Melissa Goldberg, a psychology lecturer at the Washington, D.C., university, invited Rachel Carbonneau to speak on Jan. 23 to her psychology class, which focuses on "lifespan development." 

Carbonneau was invited to discuss her work as a doula, which she claimed involves helping men give birth — like a "seahorse" — and supporting pregnant mothers considering abortions.

A doula is a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support and physical comfort to a mother before, during and just after childbirth.

Carbonneau describes herself on LinkedIn as a "[s]killed full-spectrum birth, postpartum, and end-of-life doula, childbirth educator, and wellness and parenting coach."

After Carbonneau's presentation, the university confirmed she would not be invited to return for future lectures.

CUA President's Statement

The university's president, Peter Kilpatrick, confirmed that the school had ended its contract with the professor responsible for inviting Carbonneau to address the students. 

We commit to never advocate for sin or to give moral equivalence to error.

"Over the weekend, a news story appeared online that included an excerpt of an audio recording of a guest speaker addressing one of our psychology classes last Tuesday," Kilpatrick clarified in a statement published Tuesday.

"The speaker identified herself as an 'abortion doula' and she advocated for abortion, for language that distorts the distinctions between the sexes, and for the normalizing of transgender births," he continued. 

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The university president explained the decision to end the psychology professor's contract came after evidence was collected demonstrating that the content presented in the class was misaligned with the institution's core values and mission.

He explained:

As a Catholic institution, we are committed to promoting the full truth of the human person, and to protecting human life from conception to natural death. In our rigorous pursuit of truth and justice, we engage at times with arguments or ideologies contrary to reason or to the Gospel. But we do so fully confident in the clarity given by the combined lights of reason and faith, and we commit to never advocate for sin or to give moral equivalence to error.

He also noted that, "as witnessed by the life and virtue of St. Thomas Aquinas," confronting "opposing ideas helps us both to grow in our command of truth and to respond to error with empathy, compassion, and mercy."

'The College Fix' Weighs In

In an article for The College Fix, Matt Lamb offered a critique of Carbonneau for speaking on ideas antithetical to Catholic teaching in a Catholic setting and critiqued Goldberg for a severe lapse in judgment for having invited her on campus. 

Lamb highlighted Carbonneau's pro-abortion stance and her preference for terms such as "birthing person" instead of "women." This, Lamb noted, clashes with the school's core mission to honor the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

Carbonneau has never assisted a male in giving birth. She has assisted women, who have confusion.

He highlighted Carbonneau's claim of assisting men in giving birth, a statement meant to acknowledge so-called transgender men. He noted, "Carbonneau has never assisted a male in giving birth. She has assisted women, who have confusion about their gender and identify as men, in childbirth."

Such a speaker, Lamb noted, starkly contrasts with the Catholic values of the university, challenging the principles it seeks to instill in its students.

Rachel Carbonneau

Lamb further speculated that Goldberg either neglected to vet Carbonneau's suitability for a Catholic audience or deliberately intended to provoke by introducing a speaker whose message directly contradicts the university's foundational Catholic beliefs. 

Lamb further noted that Goldberg's invitation to Carbonneau not only breached the trust placed in her as an educator to respect and reinforce the university's Catholic ethos, but also exposed students to viewpoints that undermine the sanctity of life — a core tenet of the Catholic faith.

He also criticized Goldberg for what he deems a failure in academic responsibility, implying that Goldberg should have anticipated the potential fallout and the clash between Carbonneau's advocacy work and the university's mission. 

Lamb posited this episode serves as a cautionary tale for Catholic institutions, urging them to remain vigilant in their commitment to faith and morals when selecting speakers.

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