The Indiana Medical Licensing Board will take up a complaint next month against an Indianapolis doctor who is at the center of a controversial abortion case.
The hearing, which is set for Feb. 23, moves the board one step closer toward a decision about the doctor’s medical license and other penalties.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita maintains that Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an OB-GYN, “failed to immediately report the abuse and rape of a child to Indiana authorities” after performing the abortion on a 10-year-old girl from Ohio in June.
An investigation by the Republican attorney general’s office into the doctor originally prompted a lawsuit from Bernard and her medical partner Dr. Amy Caldwell.
Rokita said in court filings that Bernard “failed to immediately report the abuse and rape of a child to Indiana authorities” after performing the abortion on the girl from Ohio. He additionally maintains that Bernard “failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic responsibilities” by “exploiting a 10-year-old little girl’s traumatic medical story to the press for her own interests.”
But courtroom testimony and evidence appears to show Bernard communicated with Ohio authorities even before she administered abortion-inducing medication. She also notified the Indiana Department of Child Services a few days after the abortion.
Just days before Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch issued a ruling, Rokita sent the complaint against Bernard to the state medical licensing board.
Although the move prompted Welch to deny an injunction request, she ruled that Rokita caused “irreparable harm” to the OB-GYN’s reputation and professional standing when he publicly discussed his office’s ongoing investigation into Bernard.
The doctor voluntarily withdrew her lawsuit against Rokita after the case shifted to an administrative licensing action, however. Her lawyers cited jurisdictional issues that would likely keep the case from moving forward.
In the latest filings with the state licensing board, Bernard continues to maintain that her public comments about the 10-year-old’s case were within the bounds of HIPPA. She also argues that she “could not” have knowingly violated Indiana’s child abuse reporting law because her notification to authorities was consistent with policies in place at IU Health, where she practices.
“Dr. Bernard fulfilled her obligation to immediately report suspected child abuse when she informed a social worker who IU Health had designated to handle child abuse reporting within the hospital and also because she knew the abuse had already been reported,” documents filed with the medical licensing board state. “Dr. Bernard believed at all times that she was complying with all state and federal privacy laws and that she had fulfilled her obligation to report child abuse.”