Indiana's attorney general files complaint against doctor who gave 10-year-old an abortion

Dr. Caitlin Bernard provided the child rape victim with an abortion in June.

December 1, 2022, 9:37 AM

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita asked the state's medical licensing board to subject abortion provider Dr. Caitlin Bernard to disciplinary sanctions as the two battle over abortion in the state.

Rokita submitted an administrative complaint Wednesday to the state's medical licensing board claiming Bernard violated federal and state law relating to patient privacy and reporting child abuse, according to a copy of the complaint published online by Rokita.

In June, Bernard publicly disclosed that she had provided abortion care for a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled from Ohio to Indiana for care. At the time, there was a six-week abortion ban in place in Ohio.

PHOTO: Caitlin Bernard arrives for the Time 100 NEXT Gala celebrating Rising Stars who are Shaping the Future of their Fields in New York, Oct. 25, 2022.
Caitlin Bernard arrives for the Time 100 NEXT Gala celebrating Rising Stars who are Shaping the Future of their Fields in New York, Oct. 25, 2022.
Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

That ban has since been put on hold by a judge as a legal challenge proceeds, the Associated Press reported in October.

The move by the attorney general comes after Bernard and her colleague, Dr. Amy Caldwell, filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Rokita and Scott Barnhart, the director of the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office, asking the court to prevent the office from accessing patients' medical records and investigating abortion providers.

But, Rokita claimed he is not reporting Bernard to the medical board for performing an abortion, saying his office is not trying to expose anyone's medical file.

In a statement released Wednesday, Rokita alleges that Bernard "failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic responsibilities by exploiting a 10-year-old little girl's traumatic medical story to the press for her own interests." Rokita also accused Bernard of failing to properly report her patient's abuse per Indiana law.

Rokita claimed that Bernard's testimony before a judge as part of the ongoing lawsuit last week, provided sufficient evidence that she violated her professional obligations as a licensed physician and that she "failed to obtain written authorization to release the minor's medical information."

"Dr. Bernard violated the law, her patient’s trust, and the standards for the medical profession when she disclosed her patient’s abuse, medical issues, and medical treatment to a reporter at an abortion rights rally to further her political agenda. Simply concealing the patient’s name falls far short of her legal and ethical duties here," Rokita said in the statement.

Rokita claimed "only Indiana authorities could have possibly stopped this little girl from being sent home to endure possible future harm by her alleged rapist," according to a statement.

Testifying under oath, Bernard said she complied with legal requirements, and her lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney told ABC News in a statement that the doctor reported possible child abuse to social workers and state authorities.

DeLaney also said there is documented communication between hospital social workers and law enforcement.

An Ohio man was charged with raping and impregnating a 10-year-old girl who police say then traveled out of state to receive abortion care.

PHOTO: FILE - Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks, Nov. 8, 2022, in Schererville, Ind.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks, Nov. 8, 2022, in Schererville, Ind.
Darron Cummings/AP, FILE

However, Rokita's complaint also accuses Bernard of not reporting the child's alleged abuse to law enforcement. Bernard's lawyer pushed back against that accusation, claiming that Katharine Melnick, a Marion County deputy prosecutor, testified under oath last week that "in the hospital setting it is social workers, not doctors, who make child abuse reports to law enforcement."

DeLaney claimed Rokita is attempting to intimidate abortion providers, despite abortion remaining legal in the state.

"The Administrative Action filed today by Mr. Rokita is clearly a last-ditch effort to intimidate Dr. Bernard and other providers of abortion care. The evidence and testimony from last week’s hearing confirmed that Dr. Bernard complied with all reporting requirements, cooperated with law enforcement officials, and discussed a case example only in a de-identified way, within the bounds of applicable privacy laws," DeLaney said.

Related Topics