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Indiana attorney general asks medical board to discipline abortion doctor

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Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Wednesday asked a state medical board to sanction the doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim this summer.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, treated the girl, who had traveled from Ohio when the state enacted a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The case became the center of the national abortion debate after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. He also focused on child pregnancy and emerging legal risks for doctors who perform abortions. Mr. Rotika began an investigation of Dr. Bernard; she sued to prevent him from obtaining his patients’ medical records as part of this investigation.

Mr. Rokita’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that it was asking the board to discipline Dr. Bernard because she had ‘disregarded legal and Hippocratic responsibilities by exploiting a baby girl’s traumatic medical history. 10 years in the press for her”. own interests”.

The Indianapolis Star first reported the story of Dr. Bernard’s young patient. Dr Bernard declined to discuss the details of the girl’s case and did not reveal her identity.

But Mr Rokita, who opposes abortion, said ‘even concealing the patient’s name is well below his legal and ethical duties here’. He also said that Dr. Bernard “failed to immediately report child abuse and rape to Indiana authorities.”

Dr. Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, said the attorney general’s move was “a last-ditch effort to intimidate Dr. Bernard and other abortion care providers.”

In July, Mr. Rokita launched an investigation into whether Dr. Bernard had correctly reported the Ohio girl’s abortion to Indiana state officials. Records show that Dr. Bernard notified state authorities within the required reporting time.

Mr. Rokita did not say whether Wednesday’s action ended his investigation. But his petition to the medical board said that “as a result of investigative efforts” he had obtained “sufficient evidence” to support his complaint.

Mr. Rokita deferred to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board to determine appropriate disciplinary action for Dr. Bernard. Under the state law Mr. Rokita cited, the board could choose from a range of penalties, from suspending or permanently revoking Dr. Bernard’s license to issuing a letter of reprimand. .

As part of Mr. Rokita’s investigation of Dr. Bernard, he attempted to subpoena the medical records of Dr. Bernard’s patients.

Dr. Bernard and his employer, Indiana University Health, sued Mr. Rokita to block the subpoena of confidential medical records.

The state’s attorney general said at the time that these lawsuits were “designed to frustrate our investigation into the doctor’s behavior.”

At a hearing related to her lawsuit against the Attorney General last week, Dr Bernard said she had reported potential cases of child abuse to her hospital’s social work department before the patient went in Indianapolis.

Dr. Katie McHugh, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Indiana, said Mr. Rokita’s investigation of Dr. Bernard was a “witch hunt” against doctors who provide abortion care.

“This doctor is reviled for what has been internationally recognized as a compassionate intervention,” said Dr. McHugh, who is a board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a group that promotes abortion rights.

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nytimes

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