Records show that the Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio reported the procedure to the Indiana Department of Health and the Department of Child Services.
The records, obtained through a public records request by The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, show that Dr. Caitlin Bernard reported the abortion before the state’s reporting deadline and that she disclosed the child had suffered abuse — after the state’s attorney general questioned whether Bernard had properly reported the disturbing case.
In a 2-minute appearance on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime,” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita claimed Bernard had a “history of failing to report.”
Rokita did not provide any evidence to back up his claims, nor did he respond immediately to an IndyStar request for comment.
According to state court records, no criminal charges have been filed against Bernard. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office stated that it had received no allegations that she failed to report the 10-year-old’s case.
This month, states like Ohio moved to restrict abortion access in the aftermath of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Following the discovery of fetal cardiac activity last month, Ohio banned nearly all abortions, forcing the child to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion, according to a disturbing story first reported by the Indianapolis Star.
Abortions performed by health care providers must also be reported to the Indiana Department of Health, including whether the patient indicated they were seeking an abortion as a result of being abused, coerced, harassed, or trafficked.
According to a copy of the form IndyStar received Thursday from the state health department, Bernard filed the required abortion disclosure, known as a “terminated pregnancy” form, on July 2, two days after performing the girl’s abortion. For patients under the age of 16, state law requires the forms to be filed within three days.
Bernard indicated on the form that the girl wanted an abortion because she had been abused. Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen Delaney, issued the following statement.
The girl’s pregnancy was reported to Columbus police on June 22 after her mother notified Franklin County Children Services. On June 30, she had the abortion in Indianapolis.
Rokita is known as a socially conservative firebrand who is not afraid to clash with those in his own party who are more moderate, including Gov. Eric Holcomb. Republicans believe he will eventually run for a higher office, such as governor or senator.
During the Fox News segment, Rokita also railed against “fake news” and referred to the situation as one of “illegal immigration” because the man accused of raping the 10-year-old was not believed to be in the country legally. The man had lived in Columbus for seven years and worked at a café, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Chad Kinsella, a political science professor at Ball State University, agreed with Hershey, saying Rokita used his Fox News appearance to “stand out” in a potentially crowded Republican primary.
Kinsella went on to say that the position of attorney general has become a “major way” for people to advance politically, citing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as an example.
According to Andy Downs, a political science professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne, Rokita’s Fox News appearance may help him with conservative voters in the short term, but it could be a liability in the long run. According to the 2019 Old National Bank and Ball State University Hoosier Survey, only 17% of Indiana residents believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. Rokita may appeal to a small group of people, but she may lose support from those who hold more nuanced views on abortion, according to Downs.
In the short term, Downs believes Rokita’s remarks will have an impact on the debate among Indiana lawmakers who are planning to restrict abortion access during a special session on July 25. Legislative leaders have not stated how far they intend to restrict abortion, but a major point of contention is whether any abortion ban should include exceptions for rape.