Indiana reprimands doctor for speaking publicly about abortion of 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio

The Indiana Medical Licensing Board decided late Thursday to reprimand and fine a doctor after ruling she violated patient privacy laws by telling a reporter about an abortion to a victim of 10-year-old rape from neighboring Ohio.

After an hour-long hearing, the board voted to issue Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Caitlin Bernard a letter of reprimand and a $3,000 fine, but denied a request from the attorney general of the ‘Indiana, Todd Rokita, to suspend Bernard’s license. The board dismissed Rokita’s allegations that Bernard violated state law by failing to report child abuse to Indiana authorities.

Bernard has become a flashpoint in the national abortion rights debate since executing the Ohio girl case last June, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. quashed Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion nationwide almost 50 years ago. The unprecedented Supreme Court ruling brought into force an Ohio law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Bernard said the girl was six weeks and three days pregnant when she crossed state lines into Indiana, which at the time allowed abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

The doctor has come under fire from Rokita, a Republican who opposes abortion, and the two have been feuding for months. Indiana’s attorney general filed a complaint against Bernard with the state Medical Licensing Board in December, alleging that she violated federal and state laws relating to patient privacy and reporting of the disease. child abuse.

A judge then dismissed a lawsuit brought by Bernard and his colleague, Dr. Amy Caldwell, against Rokita to block her office from accessing patient medical records and investigating abortion providers. The judge declined to provide a preliminary injunction against Rokita due to her referral of Bernard’s investigations to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, saying the board now has jurisdiction over the investigations.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks November 8, 2022 in Schererville, Ind.

Darron Cummings/AP, FILE

Bernard’s lawsuit had accused Rokita of breaching patient-doctor confidentiality and claims he targets doctors who provide legal medical care, including abortions, according to court documents.

An Ohio investigation eventually resulted in a 27-year-old man being charged with the rape of the 10-year-old girl.

Bernard told the Indiana Medical Licensing Board that she complied with the investigation. She said the patient was hospitalized after undergoing a medical abortion so that the fetal remains could be collected and presented as evidence.

In his testimony at a hearing in Indianapolis on Thursday, Bernard sharply criticized politicians in Ohio and Indiana for politicizing the case.

“I think if Attorney General Todd Rokita hadn’t chosen to make this his political stunt, we wouldn’t be here today,” Bernard said. “I don’t think anyone would have viewed this story as any different from any other interview I’ve ever given if it hadn’t been politicized as it has been by public figures in our state and in Ohio. “

PHOTO: Dr. Caitlin Bernard looks at her phone, May 25, 2023, before a hearing before the state medical board at the South Indiana Government Building in downtown Indianapolis.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard looks at her phone, May 25, 2023, before a hearing before the state medical board at the Indiana Government South Building in downtown Indianapolis.

Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/USA Today Network

Bernard argued that she does not view abortion as a political issue, but rather as part of comprehensive reproductive health care. Bernard said she was one of only two complex family specialists in Indiana and had done interviews with reporters in the past who had not received as much attention.

Bernard told the council that she had not revealed any identifiable information about the patient to the press, but thought it was important for the public to know the impact abortion bans could have on care in the hospital. State. She said a hypothetical wouldn’t have sent that message.

“I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the real impacts of the laws of this country on abortion or otherwise,” Bernard said in his testimony. “I think it’s important for people to know what patients will have to go through because of the legislation that’s being passed and an assumption doesn’t have that impact.”

“It doesn’t help people understand what’s going on and I think people need to know, again, the real impacts of these laws so they can decide for themselves whether to support them or s “oppose it, again. Especially if these laws are about to be passed in their own states,” she added.

Bernard also told the board that she properly reported the child abuse case according to her hospital’s guidelines when she reported it to Ohio authorities. Ohio is where the patient lived at the time and where the abuse occurred.

ABC News

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