Catholic University Fires Professor Who Hosted ‘Abortion Doula’ in Class

Goldberg’s faculty page was no longer available on the university website as of Tuesday afternoon.

Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (photo: Bumble Dee / Shutterstock)

The Catholic University of America has dismissed one of its professors for bringing an abortion advocate to class to speak to students.

A Tuesday email from the school’s president, Peter Kilpatrick, obtained by CNA said that the school began an investigation last week after learning of reports of an abortion advocate being invited to a class. The president said the school also learned that a student had an audio recording of the class in question.

The Daily Signal, which obtained and released a copy of the recording last week, identified the psychology professor as Melissa Goldberg.

“Now that we have clear evidence that the content of the class did not align with our mission and identity, we have now terminated our contract with the professor who invited the speaker,” Kilpatrick wrote on Tuesday. 

Goldberg’s faculty page was no longer available on the university website as of Tuesday afternoon.

“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,” he wrote. 

“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,” Kilpatrick added. 

“As witnessed by the life and virtue of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we just celebrated as a community, such engagement with opposing ideas helps us both to grow in our command of truth and to respond to error with empathy, compassion, and mercy.”

According to the Daily Signal, which spoke to a student who was part of the lecture, Goldberg invited Rachel Carbonneau to the class on Jan. 23. Carbonneau, the founder and CEO of the doula company Family Ways, spoke to the class about working with women who have elective abortions and abortions that are “for medical reasons,” according to the recording.

Doulas are most commonly associated with providing emotional and physical support to women prior to, during, and after birth, though a range of doula services exist for events such as death or miscarriage.

Discussing abortions, Carbonneau in the recording said that the “goal for a lot of providers is to try to perform the abortion before the baby’s nerve endings are formed. So the goal is to do it at a time when the baby is not going to feel any pain.” 

Carbonneau also discussed what she called “the risk to the birthing person” including “a risk of hemorrhage and a risk of [a] baby that’s not going to survive, and the conversation to have with her older children about why she’s been pregnant and now there’s no baby.”

“There are a lot of pieces to these puzzles, emotionally and socially,” she said. 

When asked by a student to expand on her use of the term “birthing persons,” Carbonneau said that she works with clients who identify as transgender. “Birthing person” is a term transgender advocates often use to avoid gendered language such as “woman” or “mother.”

Kilpatrick said in his letter this week that “at Catholic University, we have the unique opportunity and common blessing to pursue truth, to grow in faith, and to exercise charity. Our studies aim at producing wisdom, which includes excellence in living and sharing the truth with others.”

“May our common study help us to understand life, to love goodness, and to promote and protect the dignity of the human person,” he wrote.