Indiana AG Wants Penalty for Doctor Who Discussed 10-Year-Old’s Abortion: NPR

dr Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive health provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally June 25, 2022 at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Jenna Watson/AP

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Jenna Watson/AP

dr Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive health provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally June 25, 2022 at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Jenna Watson/AP

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Republican Attorney General on Wednesday asked the state medical licensing agency to discipline an Indianapolis doctor who spoke publicly about having the abortion of a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled from Ohio after his more restrictive abortion law went into effect .

In the complaint, Dr. Caitlin Bernard is accused of violating state law by failing to report the girl’s child molestation to Indiana authorities and violating patient privacy laws by telling a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment.

That report sparked a national political uproar in the weeks after the US Supreme Court reversed the Roe v. Wade verdict in June, with some news outlets and Republican politicians falsely claiming that Bernard fabricated the story and President Joe Biden had during almost shouted out his outrage at the case at a White House event.

Bernard and her attorneys claim the girl’s abuse was reported to the Ohio Police Department and Child Protective Services officials before the doctor even saw the child. A 27-year-old man was charged in Columbus, Ohio with raping the girl.

Bernard’s attorneys argue that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who is adamantly anti-abortion, has been spreading false or misleading information about the doctor in his investigative allegations for several months.

The Attorney General’s complaint asked the licensing board to impose “reasonable disciplinary action,” but did not identify a proposed penalty. State licensing boards ensure that physicians have the appropriate education and training to practice in the state and may suspend, revoke, or place a physician’s license on probation.

“Dr. Bernard violated the law, her patient’s trust and the standards of the medical profession when, at an abortion rights rally, she disclosed to a reporter her patient’s abuse, medical problems and medical treatment to further her political agenda.” the office said in a statement. “Simply disguising the patient’s name falls far short of her legal and ethical obligations.”

The attorney general’s office filed the lawsuit as an Indianapolis judge is considering whether to block the attorney general’s office from receiving medical records for his investigation. The judge’s verdict is expected later this week.

Kathleen DeLaney, an attorney for Bernard, referred to testimonies from that investigation, including Bernard testifying Nov. 21 that both child molestation authorities and law enforcement in Ohio were involved in the case before the child was sent to Indiana for treatment came.

Marion County Assistant Attorney Katharine Melnick also testified that day, saying child abuse is reported by hospital social workers, not doctors, and such reports are forwarded to law enforcement agencies where the crime took place.

“While I’m disappointed he put my client in this position, we’re not surprised considering Mr. Rokita consistently seeks to use his office to punish those he disagrees with, on.” cost to Indiana taxpayers,” DeLaney said in a statement Wednesday.

Bernard was treating the girl in Indianapolis in late June when she said doctors had determined the girl in neighboring Ohio would not be able to have an abortion. That’s because Ohio’s fetal heartbeat law went into effect with the June 24 Supreme Court decision. Such laws prohibit abortions from the point at which cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo, which is typically around the sixth week of pregnancy, before many realize they are pregnant.

Assistant Attorney General Caryn Nieman-Szyper said during a court hearing last week that Bernard would not be investigated unless she disclosed the girl’s rape to a reporter to further her own abortion rights advocacy.

Nieman-Szyper said Bernard failed to show that she had permission from the girl’s family to discuss her care publicly, exposing the child to national attention.
Bernard testified that she spoke to an Indianapolis Star reporter about the girl’s upcoming abortion at an event protesting the Supreme Court’s abortion decision.

After the newspaper cited that case in a July 1 article about patients who went to Indiana for abortions because of more restrictive laws elsewhere, Rokita told Fox News that he would investigate Bernard’s actions, calling her an “abortion activist identified as… doctor acts”.

Rokita has continued the investigation even after rape charges were filed in Ohio, and public records from The Associated Press show that Bernard met Indiana’s mandatory three-day reporting deadline for an abortion on a girl under 16.