Notre Dame’s Silence on Abortion Doula ‘Displays the Rot,’ Catholic Critic Says 

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The Catholic University of America and the University of Notre Dame both hosted an “abortion doula” on campus, but the two Roman Catholic schools responded to the backlash in starkly different manners.  

Catholic University fired the host professor within 24 hours of The Daily Signal’s report on an abortion doula’s lecture to one of the school’s nursing classes.  

But Notre Dame has yet to apologize for hosting a self-identified abortion doula who also identifies as transgender who spoke at an online event in March 2023. 

Catholic University psychology professor Melissa Goldberg invited abortion doula Rachel Carbonneau to speak to her “Lifespan Development” class about coaching women through abortions and “pregnant men” through a “seahorse birth.” 

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Referring to Goldberg, Catholic University President Peter Kilpatrick announced Jan. 30 that the school “terminated our contract with the professor who invited the speaker” after obtaining “clear evidence that the content of the class did not align with our mission and identity.”  

In March, Notre Dame hosted abortion doula Ash Williams over Zoom for the school’s livestreamed event “Trans Care + Abortion Care: Intersections and Questions,” part of a series titled “Reproductive Justice.”  

During the Notre Dame event, Williams, a woman who identifies as a man, referred to abortion as “a type of birth.”  

“Abortion and birth could be binary, but I believe that it is a binary worth busting, just like man and woman,” Williams told participants. 

Patrick Reilly, president of the nonprofit Cardinal Newman Society, founded to promote and defend what it calls faithful Catholic education, told The Daily Signal in an email that both incidents are examples of bowing to a “toxic culture.” 

“Such scandals should never happen in Catholic education, and it’s to CUA’s credit that it fully acknowledges this,” Reilly said, “whereas Notre Dame couldn’t admit the mistake even after being publicly scolded by its bishop.”  

“In today’s toxic culture, every Catholic school and college needs to be serious about hiring employees who are faithful witnesses to Catholic teaching,” he said, adding: 

CUA’s incident was caused by a lone professor, who was quickly fired. But Notre Dame’s official sponsorship of the doula lecture and subsequent snubbing of Bishop Rhoades—one of many such snubbings—displays the rot that is at the heart of Notre Dame.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, publicly criticized Notre Dame’s abortion doula event at the time.  

Merlot Fogarty, a senior at the University of Notre Dame and incoming law student at Catholic University, shared her thoughts with The Daily Signal regarding the events.  

“Abortion has never been up for debate for the Catholic Church,” Fogarty, president of the Notre Dame Right to Life Club, said. “The intentional taking of an innocent human life is always wrong.” 

Referring to Notre Dame, she said: “Hosting an ‘abortion doula’ is contrary to everything the church teaches about the dignity of human life and the role we have in protecting the most vulnerable.”  

But students, alumni, and others who were concerned about the event “received no comment from the administration,” Fogarty said, and “the series that seven Notre Dame departments were hosting continued to host events contrary to Catholic teaching and without representing the Catholic Church.”  

Fogarty also contrasted the University of Notre Dame with The Catholic University of America, saying: 

CUA said they are ‘recommunicating the terms and expectations by which all outside speakers are vetted and invited,’ while Notre Dame let the Gender Studies Department host a drag show …

CUA is making a bold statement about the truth of the human person and the truth of the Catholic faith, while Notre Dame continues to cave to the left-shifting ‘middle ground,’ forgetting her Catholic roots and commitment to the pursuit of truth.

Fogarty also contrasted the responses of Catholic University’s president, Kilpatrick, with Notre Dame’s president, John Jenkins.  

“I only wish Father Jenkins were as bold as Peter Kilpatrick in extinguishing the zeal of progressive professors whose goal is to steer the university, and human souls, off their true path,” she said. 

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