An Indiana doctor has been fined $3,000 after performing an abortion on a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was raped and couldn’t get the procedure in her own state, thanks to the repeal of Roe c. Wade.
Dr Caitlin Bernard was fined not for the procedure itself, but for speaking out about it publicly – with the state’s Republican assistant attorney general accusing her of being ‘brazen in the pursuit of ( its) own program”.
The case became a flashpoint following the Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022 decision to repeal the 50-year-old law.
Ohio’s near-total abortion ban went into effect immediately: it banned all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, before most people even knew they were pregnant.
Abortion is legal in Indiana, up to 21 weeks and six days. An Indiana law that completely banned abortion in Indiana went into effect on September 15 but is being challenged in court, and is currently not in effect.
On Thursday, Bernard broke down in tears when told she wouldn’t lose her medical license – something the Republican attorney general had demanded.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard was fined $3,000 on Thursday for performing the abortion on the 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio, then speaking out publicly about it
But the state Medical Licensing Board voted that she violated privacy laws by telling a reporter about the girl’s treatment.
The board, however, dismissed accusations by the Republican Indiana Attorney General that Bernard violated state law by failing to report child abuse to Indiana authorities.
Council members elected to fine Bernard $3,000 for the violations, denying a request from the attorney general’s office to suspend Bernard’s license.
Bernard has always defended his actionsand she told the board Thursday that she followed Indiana’s instructions reporting requirements and hospital policy in notifying hospital social workers of the child abuse – and that the girl’s rape was already being investigated by Ohio authorities.
Lawyers for Bernard also said she did not release any identifying information about the girl that would violate privacy laws.
The Indianapolis Star cited the girl’s case in a July 1 article that sparked a national political outcry in the weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer.
Some Republican media and politicians falsely suggested that Bernard fabricated the story, until a 27-year-old man was accused of rape in Columbus, Ohio.
At an event at the White House, President Joe Biden almost shouted his indignation on the case.
Bernard, left, sits between attorneys John Hoover and Alice Morical on Thursday before a hearing before the state medical board in Indianapolis
Board chairman Dr John Strobel said he thought Bernard had gone too far in telling a reporter about the girl’s impending abortion and that doctors had to be careful not to respect the patient privacy.
“I don’t think she expected it to go viral,” Strobel said of Bernard.
“I don’t think she expected this attention to be given to this patient. It made. It happened.’
Bernard’s lawyer, Alice Morical, told the board on Thursday that the doctor had reported cases of child abuse several times a year and that a hospital social worker had confirmed with staff at the Ohio Child Protection that it was safe for the girl to leave with her mother.
“Dr. Bernard could not have anticipated the atypical and intense scrutiny this story has received,” Morical said.
“She didn’t expect politicians to say she made up the story.”
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s complaint asked the licensing board to impose “appropriate disciplinary action,” but did not specify the penalty sought.
Amid the wave of attention the girl’s case received last summer, Rokita, who is staunchly anti-abortion, told Fox News he would investigate Bernard’s actions and called her ” abortion activist acting as a doctor”.
Assistant Attorney General Cory Voight argued Thursday that the board needed to address what he called a “gross breach” of patient privacy and Bernard’s failure to notify the Department of Health Services. childhood and rape Indiana police.
“There hasn’t been a case like this before the board,” Voight said.
“No doctor has been so brazen in pursuing his own agenda.”
Voight asked Bernard why she discussed the Ohio girl’s case with the reporter and later in other media interviews rather than using a hypothetical situation.
“I think it’s extremely important that people understand the real impacts of this country’s abortion laws,” Bernard said.
“I think it’s important for people to know what patients will be going through because of the legislation that’s being passed, and an assumption doesn’t have that impact.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Rokita’s office maintained a running comment on her official Twitter account, with a message saying: ‘When Bernard spoke about the high priority she places on the legislation and addressed to the public, she did so at the expense of her own patient.
“It shows where her priorities are as an activist rather than as a doctor.”
Bernard took issue with Voight saying his choice to publicly discuss the matter led to the misconduct allegations.
“I think if Attorney General Todd Rokita hadn’t chosen to make this his political stunt, we wouldn’t be here today,” Bernard said.
Lawyers for the Attorney General’s Office have repeatedly raised questions about whether the policy of Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, of reporting suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities where the abuse occurred was consistent with Indiana law.
Officials at IU Health, which is the state’s largest hospital system, said the Indiana Department of Children’s Services has never before opposed the hospital policy.
Indiana’s board of directors — with five doctors and an attorney in attendance who were appointed or reappointed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb — had wide latitude under state law allowing it to issue letters to reprimand or to suspend, revoke or place on probation a physician’s license.
Ohio’s law imposing a virtual ban on abortion was in effect for about two months, before being suspended as a lawsuit against him plays.
Indiana The Republican-dominated legislature has approved a statewide abortion ban weeks after the Ohio girl’s case drew attention, but abortions continued to be allowed in the state pending a ruling from the Indiana Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the ban.
Bernard tried unsuccessfully to block Rokita’s investigation last fall, though an Indianapolis judge wrote that Rokita had done “manifestly unlawful offences” state privacy laws with her public comments on the doctor’s investigation before filing the medical license complaint against her.