Indiana doctor reprimanded for speaking publicly about abortion of 10-year-old girl in Ohio
Bernard has always defended her actions and she told the board on Thursday that she followed Indiana reporting requirements and hospital policy in notifying hospital social workers of the child abuse. — and that the girl’s rape was already being investigated by Ohio authorities. Lawyers for Bernard also said she did not release any identifying information about the girl that would violate privacy laws.
The Indianapolis Star cited the girl’s case in a July 1 article that sparked a national political outcry in the weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer, enforcing an Ohio law that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Some Republican media and politicians incorrectly suggested that Bernard fabricated the story, until a 27-year-old man was charged with rape in Columbus, Ohio. During an event at the White House, President Joe Biden almost shouted his outrage at the case.
Board chairman Dr John Strobel said he thought Bernard had gone too far in telling a reporter about the girl’s impending abortion and that doctors should be careful to respect life private to patients.
“I don’t think she expected it to go viral,” Strobel said of Bernard. “I don’t think she expected this attention to be given to this patient. It made. It happened.”
Bernard’s lawyer, Alice Morical, told the board on Thursday that the doctor had reported cases of child abuse several times a year and that a hospital social worker had confirmed with staff at the Ohio Child Protection that it was safe for the girl to leave with her mother.
“Dr. Bernard could not have anticipated the atypical and intense scrutiny this story received,” Morical said. “She didn’t expect politicians to say she made up the story. “
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s complaint asked the licensing board to impose “appropriate disciplinary action,” but did not specify the penalty sought.
Amid the wave of attention the girl’s case received last summer, Rokita, who is staunchly anti-abortion, told Fox News he would investigate Bernard’s actions and called her ” abortion activist acting as a doctor”.
Deputy Attorney General Cory Voight argued Thursday that the board must address what he called a “gross breach” of patient privacy and Bernard’s failure to notify the Department of Health Services. childhood and rape Indiana police.
“There hasn’t been a case like this before the board,” Voight said. “No doctor has been so brazen in pursuing his own agenda.”
Voight asked Bernard why she discussed the Ohio girl’s case with the reporter and later in other media interviews rather than using a hypothetical situation.
“I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the real impacts of this country’s abortion laws,” Bernard said. “I think it’s important for people to know what patients will be going through because of the legislation that’s being passed, and an assumption doesn’t have that impact.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Rokita’s office maintained a running comment on her official Twitter account, with a message saying, “When Bernard spoke about the high priority she places on legislation and speaking to the public, she did so at the expense of her own patient. It shows where her priorities are as an activist rather than as a doctor.
Bernard took issue with Voight saying his choice to publicly discuss the matter led to the misconduct allegations.
“I think if Attorney General Todd Rokita hadn’t chosen to make this his political stunt, we wouldn’t be here today,” Bernard said.
Lawyers for the Attorney General’s office have repeatedly raised questions about whether the policy of Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, of reporting suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities where the abuse occurred was in accordance with Indiana law. Officials at IU Health, which is the state’s largest hospital system, said the Indiana Department of Children’s Services has never objected to the hospital policy.
Indiana’s board of directors — with five doctors and an attorney in attendance who were appointed or reappointed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb — had wide latitude under state law allowing it to issue letters to reprimand or to suspend, revoke or place on probation a physician’s license.
Ohio’s law mandating a near-ban on abortion was in effect for about two months, before being suspended due to a lawsuit against it. Indiana’s Republican-dominated legislature approved a statewide abortion ban weeks after the Ohio girl’s case drew attention, but abortions have continued to be permitted in the state pending a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the ban.
Bernard tried unsuccessfully to block Rokita’s investigation last fall, though an Indianapolis judge wrote that Rokita had committed “clearly unlawful violations” of state privacy laws with his public comments. on investigating the doctor before filing the medical license complaint against her.