INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday, an Indiana board will hear claims that a doctor in Indianapolis should be punished because she talked about giving an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.
Indiana’s Republican attorney general said that Dr. Caitlin Bernard broke state law by not telling Indiana officials about the girl’s child abuse. This is why the Medical Licensing Board is holding an investigation. She is also accused of breaking federal privacy rules by telling a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment.
Bernard and her lawyers say that the doctor did what was required by Indiana law because the girl’s rape was already being looked into by Ohio police. The lawyers for Bernard also say that she didn’t give out any information about the girl that would have broken privacy rules.
The Indianapolis Star wrote about the girl’s case in a story on July 1. The article caused a national political uproar in the weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, putting into effect an Ohio law that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Some news sites and Republican politicians said wrongly that Bernard made up the story, but then a 27-year-old man in Columbus, Ohio, was charged with the rape.
In his report, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita asked the licensing board to take “appropriate disciplinary action” but didn’t say what kind of punishment he wanted.
After hearing what is likely to be several hours of testimony on Thursday, the Indiana board, which is made up of six doctors and one lawyer picked by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, could vote on whether or not to put any penalties in place. State law gives the board a lot of freedom, so it can send reprimand letters, stop, revoke, or put a doctor’s license on probation.
Last summer, when the girl’s case was getting a lot of attention, Rokita, who is very against abortion, told Fox News that he would look into what Bernard did, calling her an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”
In a speech this week, he said, “This case is only about two things: patient privacy and this doctor’s failure to protect this child.”
Ohio’s law that almost made abortion illegal was in place for about two months before it was put on hold while a case against it was heard.
Last fall, Bernard tried to stop Rokita from investigating the doctor, but he failed. An Indianapolis judge did say that Rokita broke state confidentiality laws when he talked about investigating the doctor in public before making the medical licensing complaint against her.
Kathleen Delaney, a lawyer for Bernard, has called the lawsuit against the doctor “baseless attacks” that were paid for by taxpayers.
Delaney has said that Rokita’s acts set a dangerous example that risks legal patient care.