Doctor Risks License Suspension for Providing Abortion to 10-Year-Old Rape Victim
Ohio doctor Caitlin Bernard is accused of breaking patient privacy and state laws for performing an abortion on a minor.
Facing charges from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, an Ohio doctor who performed an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim is slated for a hearing with the Medical Licensing Board on Thursday. Reports from the Associated Press reveal that Rokita is calling for disciplinary action against Dr. Caitlin Bernard for discussing the case publicly.
Rokita asserts that Bernard violated federal patient privacy laws by sharing the girl’s story and breached state law by failing to report the child’s abuse to Indiana authorities.
After the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in July 2022, Bernard discussed her case with The Indianapolis Star. The Star reported that Bernard’s patient was a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who had to travel to Indiana for an abortion due to Ohio's six-week abortion ban.
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Following the revelation of the abortion, Rokita declared his office was investigating whether Bernard had reported the abortion to the health and child services departments within the mandatory three-day period. Despite confirmation from Indiana health officials and Indiana University Health, where Bernard works, that she had reported in time and not breached any privacy laws, Rokita persisted in his claims.
Thursday's hearing will focus on Rokita's request for "appropriate disciplinary action."
"This case is solely about patient privacy and the doctor's failure to protect this child," said Rokita in a statement this week, reports the Associated Press. He refrained from specifying a desired penalty.
The board possesses the power to impose penalties ranging from reprimand letters to revoking or putting a doctor's license on probation.
Bernard and her legal team assert that she complied with Indiana's child abuse reporting requirements and did not disclose any identifying information about the girl that would contravene privacy laws. Her attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, branded Rokita’s complaint against Bernard as "baseless attacks.”
"Rokita's actions threaten to undermine the delivery of lawful patient care," stated DeLaney, as reported by the AP.
Last year, DeLaney sent a letter to Rokita and other Indiana state officials indicating that her client had suffered due to Rokita's public comments.
"He's falsely accusing her of professional misconduct. We want this smear campaign to end," DeLaney told NPR last July. "We demand that he and his office cease their intimidation and harassment of healthcare providers who are simply fulfilling their medical duties."
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