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‘Abortion doula’ slated to speak at Notre Dame

Notre Dame alumni leader criticizes pro-abortion event

The gender studies department at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic University, plans to host an “abortion doula” on March 20.

The speaker is part of a series called “Reproductive Justice: Scholarship for Solidarity and Social Change.”

This specific event is titled “Trans Care + Abortion Care: Intersections and Questions,” and includes the abortion activist, Ash Williams, a self-proclaimed “Abortion Doula,” as a speaker.

The College Fix reached out to Williams via Sister Song Network, where the activist works. The organization has not responded to multiple emailed requests for comment in the past week. She is “a Black trans abortion doula, public intellectual, and abolitionist community organizer from Fayetteville, NC,” according to an event bio.

The Fix also reached out to Notre Dame’s media relations department and asked whether the university had any issue with an event that promoted views contrary to the Catholic Church. It has not responded to multiple inquiries sent in the past week. The gender studies department did not respond to similar questions.

The Catechism, which lists the teachings of the Catholic Church, explains how the abortion is viewed as a “moral evil.”

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” the Catechism states. “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

The leader of an alumni group that seeks to ensure Notre Dame maintains its Catholic identity criticized the event and series in emailed comments to The Fix.

Sycamore Trust President Bill Dempsey told The Fix that Notre Dame has given “scandal of the first order through its promotion of abortion through two pro-abortion panels, with more on the way.”

“This flouting of the commitment of the university to ‘uphold the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death’ illustrates the fault lines that have opened at Notre Dame in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision turning the abortion issue back to the state legislatures,” Dempsey said.

MORE: Catholic university denies group for belief in two sexes

Dempsey said he believes the gender studies department “took advantage of the university’s academic freedom policy under which departments are free to sponsor discussions of issues in which panelists may oppose Church teaching.”

Dempsey said the department “ignored the requirement that it not be seen as endorsing such opposition and that it ensures the Church’s voice is not drowned out.”

The policy in question is called “Common Proposal of Chairs of the College of Arts and Letters and Fr. Jenkins.”

“Faculty and departments must explore controversial issues. A university has an obligation to promote the free discussion of issues that are controversial in our society,” according to the policy. “A Catholic university has an added obligation to sponsor academic events that consider controversial issues in the light of Catholic teachings.”

The policy also requires that “tradition should be presented” any time a “significant issue in the Catholic tradition” is discussed.

Dempsey criticized other academic units that are complicit in the panel, such as the “History, Political Science, English, American Studies, and Sociology,” departments.

“In sum, we have a Notre Dame academic unit, with the support of a wide array of departments, promoting an action Pope Francis has condemned in the strongest terms,” he said.

Dempsey noted that Pope Francis has compared abortion to “hiring a hitman” while the nation’s bishops “have declared abortion the ‘preeminent’ public issue of our times.”

“Notre Dame has a strong pro-life community, but the pro-abortion element in the faculty has become ever more aggressive in pressing their opposition to the Church,” Dempsey said.

MORE: College course calls gender a social construct

IMAGE: Notre Dame University

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Claire Anderson -- Northern Virginia Community College