NOTRE DAME, Indiana, March 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After a conservative student action group launched a petition against the University of Notre Dame for linking to pro-abortion and gay rights groups as “internship opportunities” on its website, the school claimed the situation was mischaracterized.

TFP Student Action on Monday called supporters to oppose a page hosted under Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science.

The page for “Summer Internship Opportunities” lists pro-abortion groups such as Emily’s List, Feminist Majority Foundation, institute for Women’s Policy Research, and National Women’s Law Center, Human Rights Watch, and the leftist groups Center for American Progress and Think Progress. It also lists the United Nations Population Fund, the international organization’s population control arm that investigations have found complicit with China’s coercive one-child policy.

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The university’s public relations office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from LifeSiteNews.com on Wednesday. However, an email from university spokesman Dennis Brown to one TFP supporter stated that the group had misrepresented the issue by claiming that Notre Dame was actually offering internships with the listed groups.

“Notre Dame does not ‘offer’ internships to the organizations that have been cited. Rather, it is the organizations that offer the internships and some of our students have chosen to accept them in the past,” wrote Brown. “Again, to be clear, Notre Dame isn’t offering anything here.”

John Ritchie of TFP Student Action told LifeSiteNews.com that “Notre Dame officials are not addressing the core issue here:  the pro-abortion links.”

“If you truly cherish and follow the Catholic faith, you don’t point students to pro-abortion groups and call them ‘internship opportunities.’  It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “Even though it would take the university’s webmaster about five minutes to remove them, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the links remain up.”

When LifeSiteNews.com asked the president of the Sycamore Trust, a Notre Dame alumni watchdog group, his opinion of the matter, he said that it wasn’t yet clear whether the links amounted to a clerical faux pas or something worse.

“The question here is whether Notre Dame intended by this listing of prior internships to encourage students to apply to these organizations and to indicate that service with them would qualify for credit,” said Sycamore president William Dempsey. “That seems the natural inference from the materials on the website. But it is possible it was a badly vetted listing by some clerk of all prior internships whether or not they had been approved for credit.”

Dempsey said that his group is awaiting a response from the school as to whether Notre Dame would strike the groups and “make clear that their internships will not qualify for credit. “