An Indianapolis doctor who spoke publicly about performing an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim could face disciplinary action after prosecutors screwed her during a hearing Thursday that could change her future as a doctor.
Physician Caitlin Bernard has been accused by Indiana Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita of failing to report the child molestation to state authorities.
“No doctor has been so audacious in pursuing his own goals,” prosecutors told the panel about Bernard.
Bernard is also accused of violating state patient privacy laws by telling a media representative about her treatment of the Ohio child.
The doctor has defended her actions from the start, telling the state Medical Licensing Board — the body that will ultimately decide her fate — that she complied with Indiana’s reporting requirements by informing the hospital’s social workers about the child abuse.
The Chamber heard the arguments of both sides as to whether Bernard should face any penalty, including the suspension of her licence, but took no action.
dr Caitlin Bernard has been accused by Indiana Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita of failing to report the child molestation to state authorities
Bernard spoke publicly about an abortion case involving a 10-year-old rape victim
Rokita filed a lawsuit against Bernard last summer after she went to the press about the case and faced a disciplinary committee on Thursday
Bernard told the panel that Ohio was already investigating the child’s rape and that privacy laws were not violated because she failed to disclose identifying information.
Indiana Assistant Attorney General Cory Voight said, “There has never been a case like this before the panel.”
“No doctor has been so audacious in pursuing his own goals.”
Voight argued that the panel needed to address what he called a “egregious invasion” of the patients’ privacy, in addition to their alleged failure to notify the Department of Child Services and Indiana law enforcement of the rape.
Bernard’s attorney, Alice Morical, told the panel that her client reported cases of patient abuse several times a year.
Voight asked Bernard why she was telling a reporter about the Ohio girl’s case, and then discussed the case further in other interviews with the media.
“I think it’s incredibly important for people to understand the real implications of this country’s abortion laws,” Bernard replied
“I think it’s important for people to know what patients are going through because of the legislation that’s passed, and a hypothesis doesn’t have that impact.”
The Indianapolis Star’s story of the girl’s case sparked a nationwide political uproar last summer, in the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which subsequently enacted an Ohio statute allowing abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy prohibited.
Because of the article, some news outlets and Republican politicians falsely claimed that Bernard made up the story until a 27-year-old man was charged with the rape in Columbus, Ohio.
dr Tracey Wilkinson (left), a pediatrician at the IU School of Medicine, and Dr. Caroline E. Rouse, Physician of Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the IU School of Medicine, line up in front of a conference room to greet Dr. Caitlin Bernard to support Thursday
dr Caitlin Bernard (left) sits at the disciplinary hearing between attorneys John Hoover and Alice Morical
The Indianapolis Star’s story about the girl’s case sparked last summer in the weeks following the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Repeal Wade, political uproar from across the country
Rokita’s complaint asked the licensing board to impose “reasonable disciplinary action,” but does not seek a specific penalty.
The Board took no action during the hearing.
Last summer, amid the exploding wave of attention the case received, pro-life advocate Rokita called Bernard an “abortion activist.”
Bernard defended himself against Rokita’s allegations, saying, “I think if Attorney General Todd Rokita hadn’t decided to make this his political stunt, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The Indiana board hearing this case consists of six physicians and one attorney appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
After several hours of testimony, the panel will vote on whether penalties should be imposed. Indiana law gives the board the authority to issue a letter of reprimand or to suspend, revoke, or place a physician’s license on probation.
Previously, Bernard’s attempt to block Rokita’s investigation was unsuccessful. Despite the failure, an Indiana judge wrote that the attorney general’s public statements about the medic’s investigation committed “clear unlawful violations of the state’s confidentiality laws.”