File Shows Indiana Doctor Fulfilled Duty to Report Abortion of 10-Year-Old Girl

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Hours after a man was charged Wednesday with raping a 10-year-old Ohio girl, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) asked if the Indianapolis doctor who had helped the child get an abortion had reported the procedure to state officials, as required by law. .

“We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight to the end — including reviewing her license, if she doesn’t report,” Rokita told Fox News’ Jesse Watters on Wednesday night. Watters had suggested the doctor could face “a criminal charge”.

Rokita raised doubts again on Thursday in a letter to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R), saying his office had requested, but had not received, documents from state agencies indicating that abortion of the girl had been properly reported by OB/GYN, Caitlin Bernard.

But records obtained by The Washington Post on Thursday afternoon show Bernard did report the minor’s abortion to relevant state agencies before the legally mandated deadline to do so. The doctor’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, said in a statement to news outlets that Bernard “is considering legal action against those who smeared [her]including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.

“My client, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, took all appropriate and appropriate actions consistent with the law and her medical and ethical training as a physician,” DeLaney said. “She followed all relevant policies, procedures and regulations in this case, as she does every day to provide the best possible care to her patients.”

In Indiana, abortion is legal until 22 weeks of pregnancy. Under state law, providers are required to report all pregnancy terminations within 30 days. For patients under 16, the reporting window is reduced to three days and doctors must alert both the Indiana Department of Health and Department of Children’s Services – a way for authorities to promptly initiate investigations into possible cases of child abuse.

The 10-year-old girl’s case from Ohio was first reported by the Indianapolis Star on July 1, a week after the Supreme Court overturned it. Roe vs. Wade. Although the story quickly gained international attention, it was followed by an outpouring of skepticism from conservative politicians, pundits and the media who expressed doubts about the story. (The Post also published a fact check that initially concluded that the girl’s abortion was a “very difficult story to verify.”)

On Wednesday, however, the Columbus Dispatch confirmed the account, reporting that a 27-year-old man, Gerson Fuentes, had been charged with raping the girl. According to the newspaper, a detective testified in court that the girl had an abortion in Indianapolis on June 30.

Man accused of raping 10-year-old girl who had to travel for abortion

The 10-year-old first sought treatment from an Ohio doctor, but was unable to access abortion services because she was just over six weeks pregnant, the threshold imposed by a new Ohio law. The doctor then asked Bernard for help – “and so the 10-year-old was soon on her way to Indiana for Bernard’s care,” the Star reported.

According to the report obtained by The Post, Bernard alerted the Indiana Department of Health and Department of Children’s Services to the girl’s abortion on July 2, noting that she had been the victim of abuse. .

During her Wednesday night interview with Fox News, Rokita also accused Bernard of having “a history of not reporting” cases of child abuse – an allegation that is based on claims made by an anti-abortion group in 2018 that have since been amplified by some conservative media.

After 10-year-old girl’s arrest for rape, Fox News hosts change direction

That year, Indiana Right to Life alleged that nine state physicians, including Bernard, “failed to comply with legal reporting requirements to protect young children from sexual abuse” in 48 cases between July 2017 and May 2018.

However, these claims appear to be stretched. They’re based on 48 cases where doctors reported underage abortions to the Department of Health but left a blank field asking when the cases were reported to the Department of Children’s Services, according to an article. of 2018 in the South Bend Tribune. .

Indiana Right to Life filed complaints against the doctors with the state health department and the attorney general’s office. The outcome of the state’s investigation into the complaints is unclear. A spokeswoman for the organization said “the state has looked into the matter,” but when asked to share related documents, she referred The Post to the attorney general’s office, which does not did not respond to a survey about them.

The Indiana Department of Health did not respond to multiple requests from The Post. A review of records from DocInfo — a dataset of physician licensing and disciplinary information from the Federation of State Medical Boards — and the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana showed no disciplinary activity or license terminations against Bernard. or one of the other doctors.

Rokita’s office did not respond to requests for further documentation of its claims.

Abortion is now prohibited in these states. See where the laws have changed.

Katie McHugh, an Indiana obstetrician/gynecologist and board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, called the allegations “baseless attacks” that underscore how “abortion providers are being targeted by a state that creates a threatening pose that is neither legal nor appropriate.”

“It’s a waste of government time and taxpayer money for a political stunt that doesn’t pursue the real criminal here,” McHugh added. “It doesn’t even focus on the victim and instead focuses on a doctor providing legal, evidence-based care.”

Some abortion services will likely be banned as Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature holds a special legislative session later this month. While details of the proposed abortion law are scarce, it is expected to closely follow a model legislation crafted by National Right to Life General Counsel Jim Bopp, Politico reported. . Bopp’s model forbids abortion almost completely – with only one exception for cases where the life of the pregnant person is at stake.

With Roe gone, anti-abortion lawmakers want to ban patients from crossing state lines. National political reporter Caroline Kitchener explains more. (Video: Casey Silvestri, Courtney Beesch/The Washington Post)

The restrictions could come at a time when Indiana abortion providers are facing a surge in patients requesting the procedure. McHugh said three of the state’s nine clinics have expanded operations to increase their patient load by at least 50% since deer was overthrown. Many patients, like the 10-year-old girl from Ohio, come from neighboring states with more restrictive laws.

“There are so many cases like this. Every abortion provider I have the privilege of knowing has cared for patients who are preadolescent victims and impregnated by predators,” McHugh said. “His story is not new and it is not something that has been made up. It just goes to show that restrictions and regulations don’t prevent abortion – they only serve to make it less safe.

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