Indiana’s attorney general sued the state’s largest hospital system, claiming it violated patient privacy laws when a doctor publicly shared the story of a young girl from the Ohio who traveled to Indiana to have an abortion.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Indianapolis, marks Attorney General Todd Rokita’s latest attempt to pursue disciplinary action against Dr. Caitlin Bernard. The doctor’s account of a 10-year-old rape victim traveling to Indiana to receive abortion drugs has become a flash point in the abortion debate days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. case Wade last summer.
Rokita, a Republican, is fiercely anti-abortion and Indiana was the first state to approve abortion restrictions after the court ruling. The near-total ban on abortion recently came into force after legal battles.
“Neither the 10-year-old nor her mother gave the doctor permission to speak to the media about their case,” the lawsuit states. “Rather than protecting the patient, the hospital chose to protect the doctor and itself. »
The lawsuit named Indiana University Health and IU Healthcare Associates. It alleged the hospital system violated HIPPA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and a state law for failing to protect patient information.
The Indiana Medical Licensing Board reprimanded Bernard in May, saying she failed to follow privacy laws by speaking publicly about the girl’s treatment. This was a far cry from the medical license suspension requested by Rokita’s office.
Still, the board’s decision drew widespread criticism from medical groups and others, who called it a move aimed at intimidating doctors.
Hospital system officials maintained that Bernard did not violate privacy laws.
“We continue to be disappointed that the Indiana Attorney General’s Office continues to devote the state’s limited resources to this matter,” IU Health said in a statement. “We will respond directly to the Attorney General’s Office regarding the filing.”
In July, a 28-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for raping the child.