What You Should Know About Notre Dame Professor’s Promotion of Abortion to Students

Notre Dame’s Tamara Kay claims she’s promoting abortion not as a professor but ‘as a private citizen, so that’s been cleared by the university.’

The iconic golden dome tops the Main Building at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
The iconic golden dome tops the Main Building at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. (photo: Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock)

A professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs has offered to assist Notre Dame students to obtain abortion pills — against both Notre Dame policy and, until recently, against Indiana law. 

Notre Dame officials have sought to dissociate themselves from her statements, but they have done little to prevent her actions.

How it Began

As Indiana has long been a very pro-life state, the overturning of Roe v Wade seemed likely to lead to a near-total ban on abortion in the state. And after a special session of the Indiana General Assembly, this came to fruition through a vote on Aug. 5 and the later signing of Indiana S.B. 1 into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb. The law took effect Sept. 15, banning nearly all abortion procedures in the state of Indiana.

As it became clear this spring that Dobbs would overturn Roe, a group of Notre Dame professors, led by Tamara Kay of the Keough School of Global Affairs, began to voice their complaints, largely through publishing a series of op-eds in various national publications, many of which were then promoted by ND News. After three Notre Dame students published an article, “Notre Dame Should Not Promote Pro-Abortion Views,” in National Review Online (May 31), the promotion of these articles by ND News ceased, but the on-the-ground work of Kay began.

What She Is Doing

Through a series of social media posts, and through advertisements on her office door, Kay claimed that she would be a “Safe Space to get help and information on ALL healthcare issues and access — confidentially with care and compassion.” She also advertised where students might obtain Plan B “morning after” and Plan C abortion pills, the second of which are efficacious up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

In reference to these pills, she also stated via Twitter on Sept. 16: “Will help as a private citizen if you have issues w access or cost. DM me.” [sic]

Kay is not alone in this endeavor — she stated via social media that students should look for professor with the letter “J” on their office door would be willing to assist students in confidentially “access[ing] healthcare” when they need it. Additionally, she has been distributing stickers with QR codes that lead to PlanCPills.org, a website that offers abortion pills by mail. 

According to Kay, the university explicitly allowed her to post these messages. In an interview with the Irish Rover, she claimed that she is promoting abortion not as a professor but “as a private citizen, so that’s been cleared by the university.”

For the first week that these professors were helping students obtain abortions, S.B. 1 was in effect, making their actions illegal. As of Sept. 22, however, the law was suspended via injunction by a state judge, allowing abortion businesses to operate until the case is heard by the Indiana Supreme Court, which will most likely uphold the law, making abortion illegal once again.

The University’s Response

After initially allowing Kay to promote abortion pills on campus “as a private citizen,” the University of Notre Dame has made no official statement on the matter. But several instances suggest that it is attempting to stop her efforts. 

Kay removed all references to Notre Dame from her Twitter bio, and the sign on her door along with all of the “Js” on other faculty doors have been removed, as well. 

Furthermore, emails to Kay’s Notre Dame address receive an auto-generated response signed by Kay, which informs the sender that she will likely require extra time to respond to emails since the “Notre Dame police are monitoring and curating this email account.”

Nevertheless, she has continued posting pro-abortion messages from her Twitter account, which is now named “Dr. Tamara Kay — Abortion Rights & Policy Scholar.”

The Students’ Response

Notre Dame Right to Life is the largest student group on campus, claiming 700 members on a campus of about 8,000 undergraduates. Since the overturning of Roe June 24, the group has redoubled its efforts to provide care for students who are pregnant or have young children. For a long time, it has led initiatives such as free babysitting and has posted volunteers at the local Women’s Care Center.

The university’s official statement, from 2010, “recognizes and upholds the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,” and the majority of these efforts are conducted by students themselves. 

In part as a response to the vocal pro-abortion efforts of Kay, the Right to Life club is attempting to partner with the university to promote and expand its services, to further encourage pregnant students to choose life. 

The president of Notre Dame Right to Life, Merlot Fogarty, told the Register that the proposal includes teaching resident assistants how to counsel pregnant students in the dorms. She also proposes posting in all the bathroom stalls around campus QR codes that lead to a website outlining various pregnancy and parenting support programs. The Family Research Center, for example, helps mothers by relieving them of added financial burdens associated with pregnancy and child care. It also provides diapers and clothes for young children and offers free counseling to pregnant and parenting students, along with other resources.

Why It Matters

At the local level, the actions of the professor, a member of the Keough School of Global Affairs, raises more questions. 

Despite Notre Dame being a school dedicated to promoting human dignity and the common good, Kay has loudly demonstrated the failure of this school to uphold the vision of the Catholic Church in both of these matters. Statewide  abortion bans will demonstrate more than ever before where deficiencies in early child care and support exist. Notre Dame, the best-financed Catholic university in the country, is ideally situated to set an example of what this support can and should look like. 

If, instead, it fails to reprimand professors who present abortion as the only alternative to frightened, under-resourced students at the university, and does nothing to demonstrate how they will help all students who choose life, what hope is there for the rest of the country?