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A pro-abortion professor at the University of Notre Dame has sued the university’s Catholic conservative newspaper for defamation.
Tamara Kay, a professor of global affairs and sociology and ardent abortion advocate, filed a defamation lawsuit on May 22 alleging that the newspaper, the Irish Rover, intentionally made “false and defamatory statements” about her in two articles.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Rover said Kay’s allegations were “entirely false.” “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,” the publication said.
The professor sued over two articles in the Irish Rover published in October 2022 and March 2023, both criticizing her promotion of abortion access against the Catholic university’s stated opposition to abortion and contraception.
Kay alleged that the articles “contained false and defamatory information” and have “a motive of bad faith and a reckless disregard for truth and falsity.” Analysis of the relevant recordings by the Daily Caller reveal that while the Irish Rover’s quotes contained a few “minor inaccuracies,” the articles accurately preserved the substance of the professor’s statements and actions.
She also claimed that because of the articles, she “has been harassed, threatened, and experienced damage to her residential property” and “has suffered mentally and emotionally.”
Joseph DeRuil, the publication’s former editor, told the Daily Caller that “there is no merit to any of Professor Kay’s claims, so we hope to put this lawsuit behind us as quickly as possible in order to reestablish our focus on promoting Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.”
In response, the Irish Rover filed an Anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the tenured professor’s lawsuit. SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuits against public participation” and describes lawsuits that seek to silence criticism.
“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,” DeRuil said.
The October article, written by DeRuil, alleged that Kay and other professors “offer help in obtaining both Plan B ‘morning after’ pills and ‘Plan C’ abortion pills, which are efficacious up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.” Such pills are not available on the pro-life university’s campus due to university policy.
The article cited a post on Kay’s door that said, “This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access—confidentially with care and compassion,” and included an encircled “J,” which DeRuil said is a symbol for professors who secretly help students obtain abortions.
The article also presented since-deleted tweets posted by Kay, whose Twitter account is named “Dr. Tamara Kay – Notre Dame abortion rights expert,” as evidence of her pro-abortion activities. “Will help as a private citizen if you have issues w[ith] access or cost. D[irect] M[essage] me,” the tweet read.
The March article said that Kay, in a College Democrats event, was asked how she — as an abortion advocate — ended up at Notre Dame, which does not allow student groups who promote abortion or contraceptives. The article claims that she answered that she had reservations about working for Notre Dame, but “[her] Catholicism is about social justice [and] liberation theology.” She also stated, “For me, being Catholic means … that you do the right thing even when it’s difficult. …Because if I don’t, who will?”
Kay also denies the article’s claims that she said, “If you have that academic freedom, you should use it,” and, “She acknowledges that not all the students in the crowd could be as forward in their pro-abortion activities as she is: I can’t impose that on you…but I’m doing me, and you should do you.”
The University of Notre Dame has not yet addressed the lawsuit. The university’s president, Fr. John Jenkins, wrote a December 2022 letter to the Chicago Tribune disavowing a pro-abortion op-ed Kay wrote and has maintained the university’s stance against abortion.