Student Perspective: An Abortion Doula Lectured to My Class, So I Went to the Press

Caldwell Hall during a pink sunset on August 30th 2023.

Image Courtesy of Noah Slayter

By Felipe D. Avila

This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tower.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that an abortion doula would lecture in my class. That is exactly what happened last week. On January 23, I had the unpleasant experience of listening to Rachel Carbonneau, a self-described “abortion doula,” share her experience counseling abortion and transgender patients.

My outspoken opposition to abortion has not come without cost. In high school, I was severely bullied for my pro-life convictions. This included death threats, stalking, and harassment from administrators.

To never experience this kind of discrimination again, I made the conscious decision to attend The Catholic University of America. I chose CUA because of its pro-life identity and commitment to human dignity in all stages.

Imagine my shock when my grade depended on attending a pro-abortion lecture. Class attendance was required, not encouraged. It was appalling, to say the least. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. To have a similar experience, like at my high school, was upsetting, to say the least.

I’ve never been the student who sits idle, allowing radical out-of-touch speakers to spread hateful rhetoric. I surreptitiously recorded audio of the lecture. Though I was nervous, I knew it was the right thing to do. I leaked it to the press.

“I am an abortion doula, and I know I’m at Catholic University. I know that carries a lot of weight,” said Carbonneau to my class. 

These are words I never expected to hear at a Catholic institution, especially one that purports to be “100% Pro-Life.”

“I will tell you because I work with so many people that are having what we would consider ‘an elective abortion’… I will tell you that Washington Hospital Center handles it better than any other area hospital. They have something called ‘cuddle cots…’ which is a chilled bed that you can put beside your bed so your baby can stay with you for up to two days.”

While cuddle cots were developed with the express intent of providing grieving parents time with their stillborn children, in the audio, Carbonneau explicitly references their use in elective abortions.

How shocking it was to hear from a medical advocate who acknowledged the humanity of preborn children, only to advise their death, and offer clients the opportunity to sleep next to their deceased children.

Carbonneau even lectured on how she aids transgender individuals with “seahorse births.” For context, male seahorses carry their offspring until they can hatch from eggs, expelling them from sacks on their chest which can appear like birth

This animalistic terminology seriously confused me. The doula continued by stating, “We work with trans clients, I have some men who have given birth; it’s amazing, we call it seahorse birth. It’s lovely, especially when it’s a water birth; it’s fantastic.” This is emphatically against Catholic teaching. I was shocked that this was taught in a CUA classroom.

I sent the audio of this lecture to The Daily Wire and The Daily Signal, which has since received significant coverage. I shared the story in the pursuit of the cardinal virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. These virtues were NOT on display in my classroom.

On Tuesday, January 30, President Peter Kilpatrick shared a university-wide email reporting the termination of the instructor. “Here at Catholic University, we have the unique opportunity and common blessing to pursue truth, to grow in faith, and to exercise charity,” the university president wrote. “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.”

I hope this story will lead to the creation of real, meaningful change with respect to guests and faculty who embrace the values of the Catholic University of America. May this story be remembered not as a stain on the institution’s history, but as a lesson on preserving its Catholic heritage.

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