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AG: Punish the doctor who spoke about the abortion of a 10-year-old girl in Ohio

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s Republican attorney general on Wednesday asked the state medical licensing board to discipline an Indianapolis doctor who spoke publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim who came from Ohio after a more restrictive abortion law passed. in force.

The complaint alleges Dr. Caitlin Bernard violated state law by failing to report the girl’s child abuse to Indiana authorities and violated patient privacy laws by telling a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment.

That account caused a national political uproar weeks after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, when some news outlets and Republican politicians falsely suggested that Bernard had fabricated the story and President Joe Biden almost shouted his outrage on the case during an event at the White House.

Bernard and her attorneys say the girl’s abuse was reported to the Ohio State Police and Child Protective Services officials before the child was even examined by a doctor. A A 27-year-old man has been charged in Columbus, Ohio, with the rape of a girl.

Bernard’s attorneys say Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who is staunchly anti-abortion, has been spreading false or misleading information about the doctor for months with the allegations in the investigation.

The attorney general’s complaint asked the licensing board to take “appropriate disciplinary action,” but did not specify the penalty sought. State licensing boards ensure that physicians have the appropriate training and education to practice in the state, and can suspend, revoke, or place on probation a physician’s license.

“Dr. Bernard violated the law, her patient’s trust and the standards of the medical profession when she disclosed to a reporter about patient abuse, medical problems and treatment at an abortion rights rally to advance her political agenda,” the office said in a statement. . “Simply withholding the patient’s name falls far short of her legal and ethical obligations.”

The attorney general’s office filed the lawsuit as an Indianapolis judge considers whether the attorney general’s office should be barred from trying to obtain patient medical records for the investigation. The judge’s decision is expected this week.

Kathleen Delaney, Bernard’s attorney, pointed to testimony from that investigation, including Bernard testifying Nov. 21 that both Ohio child abuse and law enforcement agencies were involved in the case before the child came to Indiana for treatment.

Marion County Deputy District Attorney Catherine Melnyk also testified that day and said child abuse would be reported by hospital social workers, not doctors, and such reports would be forwarded to law enforcement where the crime occurred.

“While I am disappointed that he has put my client in this position, we are not surprised given Mr. Rakita’s consistent efforts to use his office to punish those with whom he disagrees at the expense of Indiana taxpayers,” Delaney said in a statement. . Wednesday.

Bernardo treated the girl in Indianapolis in late June after, she said, doctors determined the girl could not have an abortion in nearby Ohio. That’s because Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” law went into effect with a June 24 Supreme Court decision. Such laws prohibit abortions from the moment an embryo’s heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy, before many realize they are pregnant.

Deputy Attorney General Karin Niemann-Schipper said during a court hearing last week that Bernard would not be under investigation if she had not disclosed the rape to a reporter to advance her own abortion rights defense. Niemann-Schipper said Bernard did not indicate that she had permission from the girl’s family to publicly discuss her care, putting the child in the public eye.

Bernard testified that she spoke to an Indianapolis Star reporter about the girl’s impending abortion at an event protesting the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.

After the newspaper brought that case to a Article on July 1 regarding patients being sent to Indiana for abortions because of more restrictive laws elsewhere, Rokita told Fox News that he was investigating Bernard’s actions, calling her an “abortion activist acting like a doctor.”

Rokita continued the investigation even after the rape charges were filed in Ohio, and public documents obtained by The Associated Press show Bernard complied with Indiana’s required three-day reporting period for an abortion performed on a girl younger than 16.


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