Notre Dame Trustee Quits After Criticism of Pro-Abortion Donations

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 8, 2011   |   5:45PM   |   South Bend, IN

A member of the Board of Trustees for the University of Notre Dame has resigned her position following criticism from pro-life Catholics following revelations that she made substantial donations to an extreme pro-abortion group.

In May, Catholic educational watchdog Cardinal Newman Society discovered that Roxanne M. Martino, a newly-appointed member of the trustees board, contributed $16,150 to the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List between 2005 and 2008. The watchdog group also uncovered information showing Martino gave donations to the Chicago Foundation for Women, which supports various pro-abortion groups including Planned Parenthood.

Martino has given a total of somewhere between $3,250 and $5,996 to the pro-abortion Chicago Foundation for Women between 2004 and 2011, CNS notes.

Martino, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Investment Management, a Chicago firm, told WGN today she is stepping down.

“I dearly love my alma mater and remain fully committed to all aspects of Catholic teaching and to the mission of Notre Dame,” she said in a statement. “I had looked forward to contributing in this new role, but the current controversy just doesn’t allow me to be effective.”

Richard C. Notebaert, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, told CNS that Martino did not realize Emily’s List was a pro-abortion group that only supported candidates who back taxpayer funding of abortions and oppose any limits on abortions, including late-term abortions.

“Martino has served Notre Dame in many ways over the years and is highly regarded as someone who is absolutely dedicated in every way to the Catholic mission of this University,” he said, according to WGN, about her stepping down.

A Notre Dame press release says that Martino resigned “in the wake of reports criticizing donations she has made to organizations that characterize themselves as pro-choice.”

Responding to the donations, CNS said, “The election of a trustee who has supported blatantly pro-abortion organizations does not bode well for Notre Dame’s effort to prove its pro-life commitment.”

The Sycamore Trust, the alumni group concerned for Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, followed up on the CNS report and contacted Notre Dame officials, who did not dispute the information in the CNS report. In fact, the donations to pro-abortion groups from Martino are higher than previously established.

“The full picture is even more damning. We have checked the Federal Election Commission reports and find that her contributions have been larger, over a longer period, and so recent as fairly to be called current,” Sycamore Trust indicates. “Martino began contributing to Emily’s List in 1998, gave about $5,000.00 in every year since 2004, and made her most recent contribution of $5,000.00 on December 23, 2010. The total is $27,150.00.”

“It should be obvious that such a long record of consistent, substantial, and recent contributions to Emily’s List should be an absolute disqualification for service on the governing body of a Catholic university. But we now learn from an Internet article by William McGurn (ND ’80) of the Wall Street Journal that the Chairman of the Board, Richard Notebaert, insists it is not,” the group continues. “Notebaert has sent a memo to board members in which he claimed that Ms. Martino simply made a lot of innocent mistakes. After declaring without any visible support that Mrs. Martino is “fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life,” the Chairman asserted: “She has through the years contributed to organizations that provide a wide range of important services and support to women. She did not realize, however, that several of these organizations also take a pro-choice position This is not her personal position….”

The group disputes the characterization that the premier pro-abortion political group — which requires candidates it supports to back partial-birth abortions and taxpayer funding of abortions — is one that provides “a wide range of important services and support to women.”

“Are we to suppose she never read any of its solicitation or other literature?  A CEO of an investment firm managing billions of dollars whose stock in trade is knowing all there is to know about everything it touches?” Sycamore writes.