Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a complaint with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board on Wednesday against an Indianapolis-based doctor who is at the center of a controversial abortion case.
The Republican attorney general said in a statement that Dr. Caitlin Bernard “failed to immediately report the abuse and rape of a child to Indiana authorities” after performing the abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio girl in June.
“Here, only Indiana authorities could possibly have prevented this little girl from being sent home to suffer possible future harm at the hands of her alleged rapist,” Rokita said in a written statement.
But testimony and evidence appear to show that Bernard was communicating with Ohio authorities even before she administered pro-abortion drugs. She also notified the Indiana Department of Child Services a few days after the abortion.
Rokita also said Bernard “failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic accountability” by “exploiting a 10-year-old little girl’s traumatic medical history for her own interests with the press.”
The examination of Bernard and her medical partner Dr. Amy Caldwell led to a lawsuit by doctors against the attorney general earlier this month. Lawyers for the doctors are trying to block Rokita’s office from accessing the medical records of abortion patients and also prevent future “uncontrolled overruns” by the attorney general.
Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch held an emergency hearing on a request for a restraining order last week after it was held a day earlier.
Prosecutors conceded that Bernard filed a timely abortion report, but stressed that the doctor should have “immediately” reported to Indiana DCS or local law enforcement her reason to believe that an underage patient was the victim of abuse or neglect became.
The attorney general’s office said in court filings that the immediacy requirement for reporting abuse conveys “a necessary strong sense of urgency of action and primacy of purpose in fulfilling the reporting obligation.” This could mean that such abuse must be reported within “hours” of first meeting the patient.
However, the law does not define what “immediately” means.
Legal documents obtained by the Indiana Capital Chronicle, as well as Bernard’s court filings, state that she filed the terminated pregnancy report with Indiana DCS less than three days after the abortion.
In her email notification to Indiana DCS, Bernard stated that the case “has already been reported through DCS in Ohio.” Speaking on the stand last week, Bernard doubled down to saying she has been communicating and cooperating with law enforcement officials in Ohio since being notified by an Ohio doctor seeking help in the child’s case. That was days before Bernard said she had met the patient in person for the first time.
“Based on the doctor’s own testimony under oath, she violated federal and Indiana laws regarding patient privacy and reporting child abuse,” Rokita said Wednesday. “In this case, the issue is not whether an abortion was performed. It’s also not about the agency disclosing someone’s medical records. These were arguments designed to thwart our investigation of the doctor’s conduct.
This story will be updated.
This story was previously published by the Indiana Capital Chronicle, an affiliate of the nonprofit States Newsroom network, which also includes Florida Phoenix.