An Indiana physician who helped a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio get an abortion after she was denied one under Ohio’s abortion ban was questioned in a disciplinary hearing Thursday to decide whether she should lose her medical license for publicizing the story and allegedly failing to report the abortion, a claim she has repeatedly denied.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard faces accusations from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita that she failed to report the procedure after administering it last June—a case that made national headlines around the impact of state bans on abortions after the Supreme Court’s momentous decision last June to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Bernard performed the abortion on the 10-year-old in Indiana, where it’s legal up to 22 weeks into a pregnancy, after the 10-year-old was denied one under Ohio’s six-week ban when she was just over six weeks pregnant, the Indianapolis Star reported (Ohio’s ban has since been blocked by a state judge).
Speaking to Indiana’s seven-member medical licensing board on Thursday, Cory Voight, director of litigation for the Indiana Attorney General’s office, argued Bernard broke state law by breaking patient confidentiality requirements when she told the 10-year-old’s story to the press, and by not reporting the case to the state’s Department of Child Services (public records obtained by the Indianapolis Star and Washington Post show she did report the abortion to the DCS).
The board can take a range of disciplinary actions, including revoking Bernard’s medical license.
Bernard has repeatedly denied Rokita’s allegations, testifying last November in a separate court hearing in a defamation lawsuit she filed against the attorney general’s investigation, that the 10-year-old’s child abuse had already been reported to police in Ohio, and adding about her reporting: “There is no evidence of any crime being committed.”
Rokita launched the investigation into Bernard last July, asking Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Ind.) for information on whether Bernard reported the abortion, and citing an Indiana law requiring physicians to report all abortions they perform for patients under 16 to the state’s Department of Child Services. Rokita also opened a probe into Bernard’s medical partner, Dr. Amy Caldwell, and in November, filed an administrative complaint with the state’s medical licensing board, claiming Bernard violated state and federal law by telling reporters about the child’s abortion.
Public records revealed Bernard properly complied with state privacy and reporting laws after providing the abortion, multiple outlets reported last July, finding Bernard disclosed the abortion to the state agency two days after she provided the medicinal abortion. Later that month, former Indiana University School of Law dean Lauren Robel filed an ethics complaint with the state’s Supreme Court, alleging Rokita’s probe was a case of misconduct that lacked “due diligence” and “recklessly” espoused false allegations. Bernard then sued Rokita in state court, claiming in a defamation lawsuit the attorney general made “false and misleading statements” against her and moving to “unlawfully harass physicians and patients” who conduct legal abortions (Rokita’s office told Forbes the attorney general regularly will “investigate thousands of potential licensing, privacy, and other violations a year”).
Indiana AG Asks Medical Board To Punish Doctor Who Helped 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Get Abortion (Forbes)
Doctor Who Helped 10-Year-Old Get Abortion Followed Reporting Requirements, Records Show — But She’s Still Under Investigation (Forbes)
Doctor Who Helped 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Get Abortion Moves To Sue Indiana AG For Defamation (Forbes)