NOTRE DAME, Indiana (LifeSiteNews) – University of Notre Dame sociology professor Tamara Kay is suing the university’s independent student newspaper The Irish Rover over its coverage of her pro-abortion activism, leveling defamation claims that the paper calls “baseless.”
Kay has written numerous articles on abortion-related subjects, including linking pro-life sentiment to “white supremacy,” asserting that the loss of “abortion rights” carries numerous harms, and a “multi-award winning article” titled “Abortion, Race, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century America” that “explores the links between abortion, nationalism, and racism in the 19th century United States.”
In October 2022 and March 2023, the Rover published articles detailing Kay’s activities as an academic at a Catholic institution, including publishing a photo of her office door, which bears the message, “This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access—confidentially with care and compassion,” as well as a letter “J,” meant to denote unofficial assistance in accessing abortion pills. Kay has also reportedly offered to assist with abortion costs and shared abortion travel financing information on social media.
“I am not actively doing that,” Kay claimed when asked about promoting abortion, which she then amended to “I am doing that as a private citizen, so that’s been cleared by the university … I talked to the dean and have also spoken to ND Media about policies.”
A university spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment as of the October article, but in December, Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins wrote that Kay and like-minded professor Susan Osterman were “free to express their opinions on our campus or in any public forum” but do “not reflect the views and values of the University of Notre Dame in [their pro-abortion writing’s] tone, arguments or assertions.” Sometime in October Kay removed the sign from her door and deleted her tweets offering abortion assistance.
On March 7, Kay told the Notre Dame College Democrats that her “front and center” placement of her abortion activism on her CV had not been an issue when she came to work at Notre Dame, and that her support for the legal freedom to end preborn life comes “from a deep, deep, faith-based place.”
On May 22, Kay filed a defamation complaint against the Rover, claiming that its reporting on her door sign was “false and defamatory” because the sign did not explicitly mention abortion pills, and asserting that several quotes from the College Democrats meeting never occurred, such as her encouraging students to exercise academic freedom for abortion advocacy.
As a result of the Rover’s reporting, the suit claims, Kay “has been harassed, threatened, and experienced damage to her residential property,” and “suffered mentally and emotionally and experienced and continues to experience mental anguish and fear for her safety.”
“There is significant and extensive documentary and witness evidence of the meetings, communications and interactions pertaining to all that has transpired, and in time that will be clear,” Kay says on her personal website, where she also says she will be releasing the full talk she gave College Democrats. “This is not and has never been about me. It is about the safety and dignity of the brilliant women students on this campus, who deserve to thrive and flourish here. My commitment to them, and to our Black, Indigenous, LGBTQI+ and students of color is unshakeable, at the core of how I try to live my deep faith every day, and cannot be undermined by threats, abuse and harassment.”
On July 11, the Rover’s editorial staff published a response calling the suit “baseless.”
“Aside from the comments drawn from the interview [with Kay by the Rover’s W. Joseph DeReuil], the facts reported in DeReuil’s [October 12] article were already matters of public record,” it writes. “Nonetheless, Professor Kay responded to the article’s publication by backtracking, denying that she had made the statements recorded by the Rover.”
She claimed on Twitter that the paper never interviewed her, to which the paper says it has a recording of their conversation. In April, three months after a GoFundMe was started to raise money for her lawsuit, she admitted speaking with DeReuil but claimed “he did not say that he was interviewing me.”
“Kay’s complaint also falsely claims that the Rover’s coverage of her presentation to the College Democrats was false or defamatory, as revealed by a recording of the presentation and ensuing question and answer period,” the editors say. “Simply put, the articles discussing Professor Kay’s abortion advocacy were fair and accurate in all respects. The record will confirm this beyond dispute. The Rover will not apologize for just and truthful reporting that helps Our Lady’s University stay true to its Catholic mission.”
Notre Dame says that the “Catholic intellectual and moral traditions provide the underlying foundation for our aspirations as a community of scholars and administrators and shape the spirit with which we engage each other and the world,” but in recent years its commitment to that foundation has been called into doubt.
Last year, Notre Dame’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications promoted multiple pro-abortion articles coauthored by Kay on social media, despite the university’s official policy to “recogniz[e] and uphol[d] the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,” “[c]onsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church on such issues as abortion.”
Other past Notre Dame violations of Catholic principles include participation in LGBT “pride” month, mandating COVID-19 vaccines despite their use of fetal cells from aborted babies, insuring abortifacient birth-control methods, and inviting pro-abortion former president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos to deliver its 2023 commencement address.