Catholic University banned an abortion doula from speaking to a class after she encouraged students to use the term “birthing person” during a mandatory lecture.
In audio recordings obtained by The Daily Wire, Rachel Carbonneau identified herself as an “abortion doula” during her January 23 lecture, and used radical terms such as “birthing person” and “seahorse births,” a reference to women who believe they are men giving birth.
“The Catholic University of America was appalled to learn about reports regarding this guest speaker,” spokesperson Nicole Germain told The Daily Wire. “It does not reflect our mission and values as a University that is committed to upholding the dignity of life at all stages.”
“The guest speaker will not be speaking again to the class and we are re-communicating the terms and expectations by which all outside speakers are vetted and invited,” Germain added.
Throughout the lecture, Carbonneau repeatedly used the term “birthing person” instead of “mother” or “woman.” When a student asked her to explain her use of the term, she discussed her work with transgender people.
“We do tend to default towards women,” she said. “We are currently at Catholic University, but we are in Washington, D.C., which is a very big and broad space and we work with trans clients. I have some men who have given birth. It’s amazing.”
Carbonneau referred to a transgender man giving birth as a “seahorse birth,” drawing a comparison to the marine fish species where birthing is carried out by males.
“We call it seahorse birth, it’s lovely” she said. “Especially when it’s a water birth. Fantastic.”
For a homework assignment due the day of the class, students were given a reading that explained the term “pregnant people.”
“Trans men and people who are nonbinary are also capable of pregnancy if they have ovaries and a uterus, which is why we often use the term pregnant parent,” it reads.
Carbonneau told the class that she has advised pregnant mothers to have an elective abortion.
“I am an abortion doula as well and I know I’m at Catholic University,” she said. “I was a student here myself so I know that carries a lot of weight.”
“I have the honor and the privilege of working with families that have had to make the hardest decision of their entire lives and I will tell you, because I work with so many people that are having what we would consider an elective abortion in sort of the legal language… it is a crushing decision you have to make.”
Carbonneau’s lecture was hosted during a LifeSpan Development course which requires attendance for students at penalty of reducing their grade, according to the syllabus.
Second-year nursing student Felipe Avila told The Daily Wire he is concerned by his school inviting a guest lecturer who works in a field that is against the pro-life values of the Catholic Church.
“The decision to invite a de facto abortion counselor is deeply troubling, with far-reaching implications for the university,” Avila told The Daily Wire. “The erosion of Catholic values in university curricula threatens the institution’s foundation as “faithfully Catholic.”
“The speaker’s troubling testimony reinforces the need for guardrails at the university, as it faces renewed calls for change,” he added.
In a conversation after the lecture, Carbonneau told Avila she believes the conversations around transgender men giving birth should become normalized.
“I think just normalizing it, right, and like using the gender-neutral language and talking about pregnant men as, like pregnant people, pregnant women, pregnant men, or pregnant humans, right,” she said.
Following students raising concerns about the lecture, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Lynn Mayer offered to meet with students about their concerns, according to an email obtained by The Daily Wire.
At one point in the lecture, Carbonneau criticized doctors giving exams to women in labor.
“Obstetricians love to get all up in there with their fingers,” she said. “Hi, did you know you can have a whole human come out of your body with nobody doing an exam? But obstetricians will do exams to get data so we can like chart stuff like that. Every time we do a vaginal exam we’re introducing the risk of infection.”
Avila said he felt Carbonneau was highly critical of healthcare professionals and condescending to students during the lecture.
“As an extension of her animosity, she embraced a condescending tone, even calling her audience ‘too young,’ he said. “Her depiction of healthcare providers was deeply unsettling and completely inappropriate at times.”
Avila said she personally questioned why he was pursuing a career in obstetrics in nursing practice.
“The speaker cited a lack of uterus as a point of concern among ‘pregnant people’ for a male like me entering the profession,” Avila said. “The speaker proudly peddled divisive narratives in the classroom while reminding us that the choices patients make should be of no consequence to us.”
Carbonneau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.