Pro-Abortion Professor Sues Catholic Students
An abortion activist professor at the University of Notre Dame is suing a conservative student newspaper for reporting on her promotion of abortion. Sociology professor Tamara Kay filed a lawsuit earlier this year against conservative Catholic student newspaper The Irish Rover after the paper published stories exposing Kay for helping or encouraging students to procure abortions and using her self-declared Catholic faith to justify her abortion advocacy. Kay’s lawsuit argues that the Irish Rover articles “contained false and defamatory information” and “establish a willful intent to portray Dr. Kay in a negative and disparaging manner consistent with a motive of bad faith and a reckless disregard for truth and falsity.”
Joseph DeReuil, Notre Dame student journalist and editor-in-chief of The Irish Rover, told The Washington Stand that his reporting on Kay “simply brought her already public [abortion] advocacy to the attention of the pro-life parts of the Notre Dame community. … I know that everything we published is true and written in good faith, so I firmly believe that the lawsuit can only be decided in favor of The Irish Rover.”
A 2022 Irish Rover article exposed Kay for helping students circumvent an Indiana pro-life law banning abortions. (That law was put on hold until the state’s supreme court ruled to uphold the law late last month.) In the article, DeReuil noted Kay posted a “healthcare notice” on her office door to signal a “safe space” for students seeking abortions and used social media to let students know she would help obtain abortion drugs like mifepristone, even relabeling her Twitter account “Dr. Tamara Kay — Notre Dame abortion rights expert” and tweeting, “Will help as a private citizen if you have issues w access or cost. DM [direct message] me.” The professor also retweeted posts and link from “AbortionFinder” and “Catholics for Choice,” which has been disavowed by Catholic Church officials. Kay has since deactivated her Twitter account.
Kay’s abortion activism has been no secret. Shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year, she and two other Notre Dame faculty members published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Pregnancy is risky. Losing access to abortion puts women’s lives at stake.” In the article, the trio write, “Abortion saves women’s lives,” and “Abortion turns out to be much less likely than pregnancy and childbirth to put a woman’s life at risk.” They also argued that “[t]he introduction of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol made abortion safer than Tylenol in the first 11 weeks of pregnancy.” The opiners — all three of whom are faculty members at a self-described Catholic university — also took at aim at Catholics: “American women denied medical treatment in Catholic hospitals while experiencing a miscarriage have undergone severe infections and mental trauma.”
The opinion piece directly contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church, which declares that “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” All three Notre Dame faculty members authoring the piece disregard that directive in claiming that abortion “saves lives,” when the Church clarifies that abortion always ends a life.
Late last year, Kay and another of her Los Angeles Times co-authors, Susan Ostermann, took aim at pro-life research and even Catholic moral teaching, publishing a Chicago Tribune op-ed entitled, “Lies about abortion have dictated health policy.” In it, the duo write, “Lie No. 2: Abortions kill babies. Almost 90% of abortions occur during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy when there are no babies or fetuses. There are only blastocysts or embryos so tiny they are too small to be seen on an abdominal ultrasound.” This directly contradicts Catholic Church teaching, as well as the findings of science. The op-ed authors also argue that criminalizing abortion actually increases the abortion rate and that “abortion is safe and does not have long-term effects on physical or mental health. It doesn’t cause cancer, it doesn’t affect future fertility, and most people feel relief after an abortion and do not regret their decision.”
Just a few months ago, Kay co-authored another Chicago Tribune op-ed arguing that banning “lifesaving” abortion drugs “would be a terrible policy choice and violate human rights.” Her co-authors were, again, fellow Notre Dame faculty members. The Chicago Tribune also published a letter by Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins disavowing the positions of Kay and her co-authors, which he wrote do “not reflect the views and values of the University of Notre Dame in its tone, arguments or assertions.”
Kay also publicly promoted abortion in an address to the Notre Dame College Democrats, saying her abortion advocacy “comes from a place of deep faith.” The Washington Stand reached out to Kay requesting comment but received only an auto-generated response linking to an article classifying the student newspaper’s two articles as a “vicious harassment campaign.”
The Irish Rover staff published an essay this week entitled, “We Will Not Be Silenced,” responding to Kay’s lawsuit. The staff write, “Professor Kay’s allegations against the Rover are entirely false. And her lawsuit reflects only the latest stage in a tenured professor’s baseless public campaign against undergraduates at her own university who had the temerity to publish accurate stories about her very public abortion advocacy.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.