Professor sues Notre Dame newspaper for defamation in reporting on her abortion advocacy

A professor at Notre Dame sued two journalists at the school’s independent, conservative student newspaper for reporting on her abortion activism, which included reports that she was offering to help students obtain abortions. 

Tamara Kay, a sociology and global affairs professor, sued the Irish Rover in May over reporting in two of its articles that she said contained “false and defamatory information” according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by Fox News Digital. The complaint specifically named two student journalists, W. Joseph DeReuil and Luke Thompson. 

In October, DeReuil, who was editor-in-chief at the time, reported on Kay’s appearance on a panel at the university titled “Post-Roe America: Making Intersectional Feminist Sense of Abortion Bans,” where she discussed Indiana’s pro-life law, S.B. 1, which is currently blocked in court, arguing it would be harmful to “marginalized groups.”

During her panel experience, Kay said abortion bans “disproportionately affect people in minority groups: black, indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQIA, those with few resources, those who are incarcerated, those in the military, those who are on campus, those who are immigrants, those who have disabilities and physical and mental health challenges, including substance use disorder.”

The Irish Rover reported that Kay told the paper after the panel that her views did not completely align with those of the Catholic faith. 


“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 said, according to the Rover, but she claimed a day later that there was “absolutely no interview” with the paper. 

The Rover denies this and stated it has a recording of a conversation in which DeReuil introduced himself as “Joe DeReuil, the editor of the Irish Rover,” before proceeding to ask Kay questions about her position on abortion.

Notre Dame's Golden Dome

The Irish Rover said the lawsuit brought by Professor Tamara Kay was “baseless” and “entirely false.” (ReDunnLev via Getty Images)

In the lawsuit, Kay does not specify any aspect of the October article that she believes is defamatory, but she does object to the wording of some quotes in Thompson’s March article. 

“Through all of complaints the Professor Kay has offered against the Rover, and even in the language of the lawsuit itself, it has remained unclear to me what she objects to in my presentation of the facts of her abortion advocacy,” DeReuil told Fox News Digital. “The Rover’s reporting simply brought her already public advocacy to the attention of the pro-life parts of the Notre Dame community, and I interviewed her so that she could provide any relevant context to this advocacy.”

The Irish Rover issued a rebuke of the lawsuit, calling it a “baseless” and “entirely false” in an statement titled, “We Will Not Be Silenced.” The student newspaper also plans to file an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the lawsuit, DeReuil told Fox News Digital. 

Notre Dame is pro-life, which the university believes is “Consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church on such issues as abortion … [and] recognizes and upholds the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,” according to its website.

Kay has shared a number of pro-abortion resources on her Twitter, labeling herself a Notre Dame “abortion rights expert,” offering to “help as a private citizen if you have issues w access or cost. DM me [sic],” according to previous social media posts reported on by the Irish Rover. 

The student newspaper also reported that Kay had a sign on her campus office door that read: “This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access — confidentially with care and compassion.”


On her door Kay included her non-Notre Dame email where students could reach her, along with the letter “J,” which denotes when a Notre Dame professor is willing to help students access abortion, including Plan B, known as the “morning after” pill and “Plan C” abortion pills, which are used to end a pregnancy up to 12 weeks. 

“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,” Kay wrote in a social media post, according to the student paper. “Look for the ‘J’, Spread the word to students!” 

Irish Rover

The Irish Rover editorial staff. Back row from the left: Joshua Gilchrist, Mia Tiwana, Luke Thompson. Front row from the left: W. Joseph DeReuil, Nico Schmitz.  (Courtesy of the Irish Rover. )

Kay said her pro-abortion actions were done as a “private citizen” and later removed the university from her Twitter display name. She also removed the sign hanging on her office door and deleted her tweets offering her help in obtaining an abortion. 

“The note on my door was not about abortion,” Kay tweeted when the story broke in October. “And the university knows this, but neither they, nor I can comment on what happened to prompt it. I’ll say no more about that. But I do, of course, fully support abortion rights and the policy implications of abortion bans are horrific.”

“And so the rag that’s not part of ND, not a student pub, has no journalistic standards AND the few faculty who are likely manipulating the puppet strings behind the scenes got it ALL wrong & should ALL be ashamed & need to take some time to get that egg off their faces,” she added.


Thompson’s article published in March featured a line that said Kay was “posting offers to procure abortion pills on her office door,” which the professor objected to in her complaint, indicating this was false. 

Kay also objected to a line in the article that read: “Another student asked how Kay—as someone who supports abortion— ended up at Notre Dame, a Catholic university that ‘recognizes and upholds the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,’ as stated by President Jenkins in Notre Dame’s Institutional Statement Supporting the Choice for Life.”

W. Joseph DeReuil

W. Joseph DeReuil told Fox News Digital that Professor Kay “does not specify any aspect of the original October report that she believes is defamatory, even though she claims that the article is defamatory.” (Courtesy of W. Joseph DeReuil)

Kay claims she was never asked this question, but in a recording of the event, obtained by National Review, a student asked her about how she ended up at Notre Dame and how it affected her beliefs. 

Kay said “[her] Catholicism is about social justice, liberation theology, and the Farm Workers’ Movement,” but she added that Dobbs decision overturning Roe V. Wade changed how she felt about her position at Notre Dame because “it made people like [her] with expertise and experience on [the issue of abortion] feel compelled—from a deep, deep, faith-based place—to speak up,” according to reporting by the Irish Rover.  

When reached for comment, Kay’s school email autoreplied: “This account has been changed, because of this:,” linking to an article in The Cut titled, “The Holy War Against One Pro-Abortion-Rights Professor.”


Her email’s auto response previously read: “Dear Friends and Colleagues, Notre Dame police are monitoring and curating this email account so it may take a bit longer than normal for me to get back to you. Apparently, white nationalist Catholic hate groups are not happy with my academic work on reproductive health, rights, and justice. But ND supports my academic freedom, so if you are interested, check out my website below. Have a wonderful day!” according to reporting by the Irish Rover. 

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