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Indiana’s attorney general wants the state’s medical licensing board to penalise an obstetrician-gynecologist who provided abortion care to a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio, a case that magnified the far-reaching consequences of restrictive anti-abortion laws and received widespread right-wing media scrutiny.
Dr Cailtin Bernard has filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against Attorney General Todd Rokita, who is accused of relying on spurious and frivolous consumer complaints against the doctor as the basis for his subpoenas for medical records of abortion patients.
He is accused of making false and misleading statements about Dr Bernard and the case of the 10-year-old girl from Ohio, whose alleged attacker has since been arrested and reportedly confessed to raping her.
Mr Rokita has accused the doctor of violating state medical reporting laws. Dr Bernard and another physician, Dr Amy Caldwell, as well as their patients, have filed the suit to block his office from allegedly infringing patient-doctor confidentiality.
Last week, Dr Bernard testified in the case. She wrote in a statement to reporters that “the fight for physicians to compassionately provide abortion care to every single person who needs their care and to fight for their patients’ access to safe, legal abortion care, free from fear of criminalization … is worth waging”.
On 30 November, Mr Rokita announced that his office filed an administrative action against Dr Bernard before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, claiming that she “violated federal and Indiana law related to patient privacy and the reporting of child abuse.”
“This case is not about whether an abortion was performed,” according to a statement from his office. “It also is not about the office exposing anyone’s medical file. Those were arguments designed to thwart our investigation into the physician’s behavior.”
His said the charge is now before the licensing board “to determine whether there are consequences for violating a patient’s privacy rights and the obligation to immediately report child abuse to Indiana authorities.”
This is a developing story