The president of Notre Dame University disavowed two professors after they pushed pro-abortion messaging in a major newspaper.
Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Notre Dame professors Tamara Kay and Susan Ostermann defended abortion by attempting to debunk three “lies” told by pro-life advocates and policymakers. The two professors made spurious claims about abortion while leveling accusations at pro-lifers. Notre Dame’s president then wrote a letter to the editor disavowing their comments.
“During the last 50 years, lies and intentional misinformation have dictated abortion health policy in the U.S. Abortion has been demonized and characterized by utter falsities; it has gone under the radar for far too long,” the professors wrote. “Because lies have dictated health policy, it is even more important to correct them now that voters are choosing policy on the state level.”
The first “lie” the professors targeted was the idea that abortion bans prevent abortion. Instead, Kay and Ostermann claimed that abortion bans lead to more abortions, more unwanted pregnancies, and infant and maternal mortality. They offered no evidence to support the first two claims, but pointed to the fact that in El Salvador, which completely banned abortion in 1998, abortion complications are the second leading cause of maternal mortality and the third leading cause among adolescent girls; and that “[h]undreds of women have been jailed for abortion and aggravated homicide.”
The second “lie” the professors attempted to debunk was that abortions kill babies in the womb. To counter this idea, they claimed that 90% of abortions take place within 10 weeks of conception and fell back on the claim that at such an early stage, the developing embryo is neither a baby nor a fetus. Going further, they claimed that since a transvaginal ultrasound is required to detect the embryo, laws in several states that require an ultrasound before an abortion are immoral, and women who receive them before obtaining an abortion are victims of sexual violence, especially women in minority communities.
Next, Kay and Ostermann took at aim at claims that abortion is dangerous and that legislative exceptions for rape, incest, life-threatening fetal anomalies, or to protect the life of the mother only affect pregnant women. Instead, the professors claimed that abortions are perfectly safe; they then attacked Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which they labeled “anti-abortion rights propaganda sites,” and said that women who don’t abort their babies experience worse health and economic outcomes. They also claimed that doctors are affected by abortion laws because they create obstacles to health care for the woman or for administering abortifacient drugs used for other ailments.
Finally, Kay and Ostermann claimed that women are not having elective abortions up until birth; they instead claimed that abortions after 21 weeks “almost always a matter of life or death, and the pregnancy was very much wanted.”
In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune Monday, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins disavowed the two professors, saying their article did not reflect the values of Notre Dame.
“Tamara Kay and Susan Ostermann are, of course, free to express their opinions on our campus or in any public forum. Because they chose to identify themselves as Notre Dame faculty members, I write to state unequivocally that their essay does not reflect the views and values of the University of Notre Dame in its tone, arguments or assertions.”
Kay was previously outed by Notre Dame’s conservative Catholic student newspaper, The Irish Rover, for facilitating abortion on campus, in violation of both Catholic doctrine and Indiana state law.