Pro-abortion Notre Dame professor sues Catholic student newspaper

Notre Dame professor Tamara Kay is suing the university's Catholic campus newspaper, The Irish Rover, over its reporting on her abortion advocacy on campus.

The Irish Rover is a Catholic, student-run newspaper whose goal is 'Upholding the Catholic character of the University of Notre Dame.'

Professor of Global Affairs and Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, Tamara Kay, is suing a Catholic, student-run newspaper for publishing an article communicating her pro-abortion stance and statements. 

The Irish Rover is a Catholic, student-run newspaper whose goal is “Upholding the Catholic character of the University of Notre Dame.” 

Notre Dame identifies itself as a Catholic university. The Catholic Church expressly states its opinions condemning abortion. The office of the president has also expressed its view on the topic of abortion.

On October 22, 2022, W. Joseph DeReuil, then editor-in-chief at The Irish Rover, published an article about Kay offering abortion access to students, despite an Indiana law restricting access to abortion drugs. “For me, abortion is a policy issue. And yes, my view runs afoul of Church teaching, but in other areas, my positions are perfectly aligned [with the Church],” Kay told the paper at the time.

[RELATED: Professor promises to help students access abortion despite state law]

Around the same time, Kay posted a sign on her campus office door that stated, “This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access—confidentially with care and compassion” followed by her “non-Notre Dame email” and a capital letter “J.” 

According to The Irish Rover, the “J” indicated Notre Dame professors offering to help students access abortion drugs, despite the Indiana law restricting them and university health care not offering them. 

“We are here (as private citizens, not representatives of ND) to help you access healthcare when you need it, and we are prepared in every way. Look for the ‘J’, Spread the word to students!” Kay reportedly stated in a social media post. 

The report also covered Kay’s social media account, in which she shared posts about abortion access from activist groups Abortion Finder and Catholics for Choice, explaining how to reimburse costs for obtaining an out-of-state abortion and how to get abortion pills by mail, even where it is against the law.  Those posts were removed, and Kay removed references to Notre Dame, but continued to post pro-abortion messages, The Irish Rover reported.

[RELATED: CA bill requiring universities to provide abortion pills goes into effect]

Then, Irish Rover politics editor Luke Thompson published an article on March 22 about her talk with the Notre Dame College Democrats. In her speech, she commented that “[her] position on this topic comes from a place of deep faith.” Kay comments that being Catholic means doing the right thing, and in her view, that means supporting abortion.

Kay claims that both articles made claims that were false and contained defamatory information. She states that after those articles were published she was harassed, threatened, and experienced damage to her residential property. She also alleges that she experienced mental anguish.

In her complaint, Kay stated that the quotes the Irish Rover used in its articles were not ones she made.

Susan St. Ville, a professor of International Peace Studies at Notre Dame, started a GoFundMe page for Kay’s legal fees. The page was established “In support of academic freedom, and freedom from harassment and abuse.” 

The page, written by St. Ville, claims that Kay was the subject of defamatory stories by white nationalist hate groups.

In a statement on her website, connected through her Notre Dame profile, Kay thanked her supporters and claimed that she will be releasing the talk given to the College Democrats.

In a statement to Campus Reform, DeReuil expressed confidence in his work. “I am not at all worried about the result of the lawsuit. 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.”

DeReuil stated that Kay provided no clear defamatory example of any aspect of the original October report. He also maintains that he interviewed Professor Kay, and in no part of the interview could she provide any relevant context to this advocacy.

In a separate statement, DeReuil said he has received an “overwhelmingly positive” response to his work from members of the Notre Dame community who wish to see the university protect its Catholic identity.

”I believe that, in many ways, the University of Notre Dame remains the best, most positively formative top-20 university in the country. Yet there are many forces that wish to conform it to the rest of ‘elite’ higher education. In my work with the Irish Rover, I try to have the paper report on all aspects of university life that touch upon how Notre Dame is living up to her Catholic identity—the identity that is the true source of her academic rigor and her value as an academic institution. “

”My hope is to promote what is good at Notre Dame so that it might be continued and to reveal the university’s imperfections so that they might be remedied,” he added. ”I reported on Professor Kay’s advocacy so that it might come to the attention of the university administrators, alumni, and students, so that her actions that seemed to contradict intrinsic aspects of the mission for Catholic university might be resolved.”