Indiana Doctor’s Lawyer Tells AG to Halt False Statements
INDIANAPOLIS — A lawyer on Friday emailed the Indiana state’s attorney general asking him to stop spreading false or misleading information about an Indianapolis doctor who performed an abortion in June on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.
Attorney Kathleen DeLaney sent the “cease and desist” letter to Indiana Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita on behalf of obstetrician-gynecologist Caitlin Bernard, who performed a medical abortion on the girl.
The letter says Rokita’s statements Wednesday on Fox News “cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and allege misconduct in her profession.” DeLaney said the doctor could file a defamation claim against Rokita if he does not comply.
Fox reported that Rokita said he would examine whether Bernard had violated the child abuse reporting or abortion notification laws. Rokita also stated that his office will investigate whether Bernard’s statements to the Indianapolis Star regarding the case were in violation of federal privacy laws. He did not make any specific accusations of wrongdoing.
Records obtained by The Associated Press and other local media show Bernard submitted the report July 2, which is within the state’s required three-day reporting period for an abortion performed on a girl younger than 16.
“We are especially concerned that, given the controversial political context of the statements, such inflammatory accusations have the potential to incite harassment or violence from the public which could prevent Dr. Bernard, an Indiana licensed physician, from providing care to her patents safely,” the letter states.
A 27-year-old man has been charged in the girl’s rape, confirming the case that was scrutinized by Republican politicians and some media outlets. After signing the executive order that protected some abortionaccess, Democratic President Joe Biden showed sympathy for the little girl’s case last week.
“Like any correspondence, it will be reviewed if and when it arrives. Regardless, no false or misleading statements have been made,” Kelly Stevenson, a spokesperson in Rokita’s office, said via email.
Bernard tweeted Friday that she hopes “to be able to share my story soon.”
“It has been a difficult week, but my colleagues and I will continue to provide healthcare ethically, lovingly, and bravely each and every day,” she wrote.
Dr. Diana Contreras, chief health care officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued a statement saying, “No medical provider should be harassed, intimidated, or criminalized for doing their job. It is unconscionable and unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
This article was published for the first time on July 15, 2022. It was updated on July 17, 2022, to correct comments made by Attorney General Todd Rokita about obstetrician-gynecologist Caitlin Bernard related to an abortion she performed on a 10-year-old child abuse victim.
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