Doctor in 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion faces Indiana AG probe

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The Indianapolis doctor who helped a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim obtain an abortion is being investigated by the state’s attorney general as the physician says she and her family have faced harassment in the weeks since she shared a story that’s garnered worldwide attention.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita sent a notice to the legal team for Caitlin Bernard on Tuesday advising it that the doctor is under investigation for how she had reported the procedure to state officials, as required by law, her attorney Kathleen DeLaney told The Washington Post.

Attorneys for Bernard recently took the first legal step in a possible defamation lawsuit against Rokita for what they say were “false and misleading statements” about the obstetrician/gynecologist in the days after she talked about helping the child, who traveled to Indiana for an abortion.

“We are in the process of reviewing this information,” DeLaney said in a statement Wednesday, adding the inquiry appears to have just been launched. “It’s unclear to us what is the nature of the investigation and what authority he has to investigate Dr. Bernard.”

Rokita and his office have repeatedly questioned whether Bernard reported the procedure to the state, even as records obtained by The Post show that the physician reported the girl’s abortion to the relevant agencies before the legally mandated deadline to do so. The attorney general has continued to cast doubt on the physician, despite Gerson Fuentes, 27, being charged with rape in the child’s case earlier this month.

In a Tuesday interview with NPR, Bernard said she has felt threatened since she shared the story of the 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion. Bernard’s representative previously acknowledged to The Post that the physician has faced harassment in the past, including being labeled a “local abortion threat” by an antiabortion group and forced to stop offering services at a clinic in 2020 after she was alerted of a kidnapping threat against her daughter.

“It’s honestly been very hard for me, for my family,” said Bernard, 37. “It’s hard to understand why a political figure, a prominent figure in the state, would want to come after physicians who are helping patients every single day in their state.”

She also fired back at the Republican politicians, conservative television pundits and media outlets that rode a wave of skepticism about whether the story of the child rape victim was true. (The Post also published a Fact Checker analysis that initially concluded that the report about the girl was a “very difficult story to check.”) Bernard challenged those who doubted the veracity of her story on “CBS Evening News.”

“Come spend a day in my clinic. Come see the care that we provide every single day,” Bernard told anchor Norah O’Donnell. “The situations that people find themselves in, and in need of abortion care are some of the most difficult that you could imagine. And that’s why we, as physicians, need to be able to provide that care unhindered, that medical decisions need to be made between a physician and their patients.”

She added, “I’m not the only provider who has taken care of young children needing abortion care.”

In a statement to The Post, Rokita accused Bernard of using “a 10-year-old girl—a child rape victim’s personal trauma—to push her political ideology.”

“As the Attorney General, I’m dutybound to investigate issues brought to my attention over which I have authority, especially when they involve children,” said Rokita, noting that his “heart breaks” for the 10-year-old rape victim. “And as I said originally, we will see this duty through to verify that all of the relevant reporting and privacy laws were followed by all relevant parties.”

The investigation into Bernard comes nearly four weeks after she told the Indianapolis Star in an article published July 1 that she had been called by a doctor in Ohio about a young patient who was six weeks and three days pregnant following a rape. The girl had an abortion at an Indianapolis clinic on June 30, almost a week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Bernard’s account, which was decried by President Joe Biden, was corroborated on July 13 when Fuentes was charged after authorities said he confessed that he had raped the 10-year-old on at least two occasions. If he is convicted of first-degree felony rape, Fuentes, who is being held on a $2 million bond, could face life in prison.

Since the charges were brought against Fuentes, Rokita has shifted his attention toward whether Bernard followed the appropriate protocols for reporting the abortion. In addition to documents showing that she did, officials with Indiana University Health told The Post that Bernard did not violate any privacy laws when she shared an anecdote with the media about the 10-year-old rape victim needing an abortion.

In the letter filed this month to Rokita and Indiana state officials, DeLaney wrote that the attorney general has limited authority to investigate complaints against professionals in certain fields, such as physicians. Bernard’s attorney wrote in the notice that Rokita’s goal was to “heighten public condemnation” of the doctor. Kelly Stevenson, a spokesperson with the attorney general’s office, told The Post last week how Rokita and his office would fight the “baseless claims” of any potential lawsuit that is “part of a divisive narrative and an attempt to distract from the important work of the office.”

While performing an abortion after six weeks remains legal in Indiana, lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature are considering further restrictions that would prohibit almost all abortions except in special cases such as rape, incest or times when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered.

Bernard told CBS on Tuesday that her sharing the story of the child rape victim was needed to raise awareness around “what the real-life implications are for people who need abortion care.”

“Unfortunately, sexual assault in children is not uncommon,” she said.

In the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, Bernard said the ramifications of the high court’s decision have proved that it will affect reproductive health care, not just abortions, in ways that potentially put a woman’s life at risk.

“I think we’re at a time in our country where people are starting to realize the impact of these antiabortion laws,” she told O’Donnell. “And now when it’s finally become impossible for some people, I think people realize that is actually not what they intended, that is not what they want for children, for women, to be put in these situations of life-threatening conditions of traumatic pregnancies.”

The physician also said Tuesday to CBS that Vice President Harris recently called her to thank her “for speaking out, for bringing this issue up.”

Bernard, who has become perhaps the most recognizable physician providing abortions in the country, declined to say to NPR whether she regretted speaking out, or if she would have handled the situation differently knowing what she knows now. But she said she remained grateful for the “immense outpouring” of support she’s received this month.

“I think people realize how important our voice as physicians as advocates for access to care can be,” she said. “I hope it will be inspiring and not deterring.”

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30 thoughts on “Doctor in 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion faces Indiana AG probe

  1. Todd Rokita stands with Child Molesters and Rapists.

    Todd Rokita believes women and children don’t have rights, especially not if they’re pregnant.

    1. I’d say he believes women & children don’t have rights, ESPECIALLY if they are pregnant.
      The funny thing is that Republicans believe in capital punishment – if you cared about life so much, why kill a suspected murderer? Do they think it’ll bring back the victim? There are plenty of cases on the books where it’s not certain that someone [in particular] is the one who killed them, but at the time, are the closest thing, so they adjust their aim and work to kill them, even if they can’t prove it’s that person – just the “next best thing”. And what do they do when it turns out there are two people on the books who are “next best things”? They prosecute both of them. It becomes clear that neither of them actually did it, but rather than let them go free, they incarcerate both of them, just to make sure SOMEONE is punished.
      What does this have to do with abortion? Well, it’s strange how one segment of society seems hellbent upon forcing raped, grade school girls to have a child and also is willing to execute people known to be innocent of murder.
      These people are also the ones who have no use for the people they impose their will upon – they have a strong aversion to social programs, so someone who is raped or imprisoned is supposed to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps to raise the child.
      The other sad thing is that if these high & mighty folks were to have a 10 year old relative raped & impregnated, they’d sneak them to a doctor under the cover of darkness to get an abortion so no one else knows about it – as though they are ashamed of what they are doing.

    1. How badly? Tell him it’s the 2nd door on the right. 🙂
      Actually, Rokita needs a swirlie.

  2. The 9 year old was allegedly raped by the boyfriend of the mother, and his age was allegedly written as 17 even though he was an adult. Allegedly protecting the mother and the mother’s boyfriend from investigation is probably what Rokita is looking into.

    Just goes to show that doctors shouldn’t be discussing patient care in open forums especially if their ducks allegedly aren’t in a row. This is why we need the investigation for the public benefit in Indiana and Ohio.

    1. The investigation has nothing to do with the public benefit and everything to do with Todd Rokita’s political career. He’s found the person, now he’s going to find a crime. That’s not how the American justice system works.

      He should be disbarred for going on Fox News to preen when five minutes of investigation showed there was nothing. Both Rokita and the AG of Ohio have decided to attack her to make up for their mistakes.

      All Rokita’s doing is making an abortion doctor a sympathetic figure.

    2. You already sympathized with that POS Bernard, Joe. You didn’t need the propaganda on either side of the Ohio-Indiana line. (Why is the Columbus press protecting the abortion doctor in Ohio? Or the trashy mother of this poor little girl?)

      Dr. Caitlin Bernard doesn’t want abortions to be “safe, legal and rare”–she doesn’t care if they happen hourly, and would circumvent other laws (like the duty to report a rape, or a rapist in the US illegally) to get her abortions in. This is not the sort of advocacy the pro-choice movement needs, but because they’re mostly idiots, it’s what they’re settling for. (And why they’re losing, even when they have good arguments about bodily autonomy.)

      Maybe Rokita and Bernard can both get disbarred and then realize, fundamentally, they’re not just frenemies but a match made in heaven. They’re both slobbering partisans. Birds of a feather. I direct more of my rage of Bernard because I expect this from a political hack like Rokita. An activist doctor cannot be trusted with other people’s lives.

  3. This absolutely reeks of partisan politics, personal ideological beliefs, spite and, if the doctor’s suit is successful, defamation. He should just resign. It would be more honorable…

  4. No matter what you think of Rokita or this horrible situation. This editorial , as usual by the IBJ. is written totally slanted toward the proabortion side. Quoting all the wonderful things, the good doctor, Bernard does for families. Give me a flippin break.

    1. This is not an “editorial” by IBJ. It is a news story by the Washington Post.

    2. Paul, pretty apparent you’ve been Foxified and unable to read a news story without the usual “media is the bad guy” chip on your shoulder.

      The story also includes AG (and office) self-promoting quotes:

      “duty-bound to investigate”
      “heart breaks”
      “all of the relevant reporting and privacy laws were followed by all relevant parties”
      “baseless claims” (by the doctor)
      “divisive narrative” (by the doctor)
      “important work of the office” (of the AG)

      So, no, you (and your confirmation bias) are not being victimized again by the big bad press.

  5. What is going on with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Committee investigation of the ethics complaint filed against Todd Rokita by the former Dean of IU school of Law . For his unethical, uninformed, unprofessional self-serving grandstanding public appearances besmirching Dr Bernard and Indiana’s Office of Attorney General.

  6. What is going on with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Committee investigation of the ethics complaint filed against Todd Rokita by the former Dean of IU school of Law . For his unethical, uninformed, unprofessional self-serving grandstanding public appearances besmirching Dr Bernard and Indiana’s Office of Attorney General.
    Don’t let this fade away,

  7. Rokita just can’t help himself. Hope he is intellectually up to the fight he is about to have with Bernard’s attorney (Delaney) and likely IU Health’s legal team … but I really doubt it. The old adage about engaging one’s brain before opening one’s mouth is one of which Rokita is apparently unaware. This is not about the merit of the legal issue; it is about Rokita’s political posturing. Too bad Indiana taxpayers have to be burdened with his folly.

  8. It appears there is a lot more to the story involving the 10 year old girl, her Mother, and Gerson Fuentes.

    Perhaps the Mother did not know that she could have gotten the abortion in Ohio under an exception in their abortion law(s). Or perhaps she thought that by going to Indiana it would not be reported in Ohio.

    Dr. Bernard may not have violated HIPPA, but without question she violated the confidentiality of the 10 year [and her Mother, for that matter] unless they consented to Dr. Bernard making the story public as part of her political advocacy. Why did Dr. Bernard report that the rapist was 17 years old? Please don’t try to state it was a clerical error – it was done to (ultimately) protect Mr. Fuentes [perhaps at the Mother’s request?].

    Bottom line, a tragic [and criminal] rape situation was raised by Dr. Bernard to further her pro-abortion beliefs in the public square, setting in motion a chain of events that probably only one of the parties directly involved is happy with. The 10 year old has likely been “outed” by inference [how many Gerson Fuentes are there in that town in Ohio] due to Mr. Fuentes being arrested [for the record, I have NO sympathy for him], the Mother’s parenting is under scrutiny given the questions surrounding her relationship with Mr. Fuentes, and Dr. Bernard has the AG investigating her. Perhaps the only direct party enjoying the situation is Rokita (for the record, I’ve thought for years he is an political opportunist). Oh, and all the fanatics on both sides of the issue can bloviate to their hearts content.

    The only person I feel truly sorry for is the 10 year old girl.

    1. How was the rape victim’s confidentiality violated? Neither her name, race, or hometown was revealed by the physician who performed the medical procedure.

    2. A reasoned response. Which is why it’s eliciting such outrage from the abortophiles.

      Rokita is a sleaze, most Hoosiers have long known this. But is the couch-fainting of Dr. Bernard any better? If Bernard has any integrity whatsoever (she doesn’t), she’d acknowledge that in 99.9% of cases, abortion is actually more invasive to the woman than a c-section. She knows this. But she’s an abortion activist and a c-section implies the baby will live. As a supporter of bodily autonomy and a woman’s right to choose (within a reasonable time frame), I don’t believe c-sections are bad because they might get in the way of a politically salacious abortion. Dr. Bernard wants abortions more than she wants justice for rape victims.

      IOW, Dr. Bernard is an activist first and a doctor second. I wouldn’t trust her to read body temperature accurately. Her playing the victim is disgusting because she clearly didn’t care about the criminal act of the illegal immigrant rapist (nor his victim). And why didn’t the Ohio doctor report the obvious evidence of rape, first and foremost? Why turn it into a multi-state hullaballoo? Easy: there’s a narrative to massage here.

      This story, most likely, will get memory-holed as it becomes too inconvenient and fails to support the narrative. And when it reveals that, yes, Bernard and the Ohio doctor violated ethics and law in their failure to report a rape. And yes, the 10-year-old should have had abortion access in her home state. And did.

      There’s the clincher: there is no way that impregnating a 10-year-old can fall under any legal definition other than rape. And even if rape exemptions don’t exist in Ohio’s new abortion law, the fact that a 10-year-old most likely lacks a sufficiently sized birth canal to preclude serious health complications was not even investigated–they went right to pursuing abortion in another state. Newsweek decided instead to write a character assassination of the Ohio AG, or at least what activist “journalist” considers character assassination (member of Ohio Right-to-Life, etc). But if you think Newsweek is going to offer a credible analysis in 2022, you’ve got other problems.

    3. Go on and give us the acceptable news sources, Lauren. Please, I welcome your list.

      That the story in question contains the legislative services agency in Ohio quoted as saying “Ohio’s abortion prohibition applies regardless of the circumstances or the age of the mother” apparently escaped your notice. You’re claiming ambiguity in a situation where none exists.

      Maybe some Newsweek would do you good.

    4. Joe B – citing one news source is always risky (although there is a lot of “group think” on news sources devoted to a particular side of the aisle). As I looked across various sources, one of the most balanced was none other than the local Columbus Dispatch, which indicated that while debatable, there were clearly arguments that could be made to permit the abortion in Ohio

      Brent B – When Dr. Bernard chose to make the situation known in support of her personal views regarding abortion, she intended it to be public. You have significantly underestimated the reach of the media and self-inflicted use of social media. Her Mother was interviewed on Telemundo [albeit behind her door, out of camera], and now, thanks her and Gerson Fuentes’ postings on Facebook and Tik Tok, the name of her Mother is public (and, has been confirmed by a Deisy Torres – also on Telemundo). I will not list the Mother’s name here (her initials are LG), but it IS public. So anyone who knows her Mother would be able to know who is the 10 year old. Telemundo also reports that the Mother is also pregnant by Gerson Fuentes, which may explain why the rape was not reported by the Mother (who, in her Telemundo “behind the door” interview defended Gerson Fuentes).

      All that has come to light may have factored into why Dr. Bernard listed the Father as a 17 year old on the State required paperwork.

    5. I’d consider the nonpartisan Ohio Legislative Services Agency a much better source than all the rest of those news sources.

      If Ohio wanted a rape and incest provision, they should have written it cleanly in the bill. They didn’t for a reason, they wanted a bill written with ambiguity to scare people away from performing abortions.

      Just like in Indiana, where the abortion bill as written says that Todd Rokita can weigh in on abortions and file charges if he disagrees with the doctor. You don’t think that’s in there to scare doctors?

      The only thing that scares me more than Todd Rokita practicing law is Todd Rokita practicing medicine.

  9. Rokita has shown again and again what sort of person he is. He is simply too mean to be a servant of the people. This can only be corrected by voting him out of office as soon as possible.

    1. My apologies for the typo. It should have read HIPAA. I saw my error after posting, but couldn’t correct it in the original post, and didn’t bother to add a new post to correct it.

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