Baltimore Sun

Lawyer for Indiana doctor defends steps in 10-year-old girl’s abortion

- By Tom Davies and Julie Carr Smyth

INDIANAPOL­IS — The lawyer for an Indiana doctor at the center of a political firestorm after speaking out about a 10-year-old child abuse victim who traveled from Ohio for an abortion said that her client provided proper treatment and did not violate any patient privacy laws in discussing the unidentifi­ed girl’s case.

Attorney Kathleen

DeLaney issued the statement on behalf of Indianapol­is obstetrici­an-gynecologi­st Caitlin Bernard the same day Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said his office was investigat­ing Bernard’s actions. He offered no specific allegation­s of wrongdoing.

A 27-year-old man was charged in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday with raping the girl, confirming the existence of a case initially met with skepticism by some media outlets and Republican politician­s. The pushback grew after President Joe Biden expressed empathy for the girl during the signing of an executive order last week aimed at protecting some abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturnin­g the constituti­onal protection for abortion.

Bernard’s attorney said Thursday that the physician “took every appropriat­e and proper action in accordance with the law and both her medical and ethical training as a physician.”

“She followed all relevant policies, procedures and regulation­s in this case, just as she does every day to provide the best possible care for her patients,” DeLaney said in a statement. “She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been discipline­d by her employer.”

Bernard reported a June 30 medication abortion for a 10-year-old patient to the state health department on July 2, within the threeday requiremen­t set in state law for a girl younger than 16, according to a report obtained by The Indianapol­is Star and WXIN-TV of Indianapol­is under public records requests. The report indicated the girl seeking the abortion had been abused.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost initially questioned whether the story relayed by Bernard to the newspaper was real. After telling Fox News on Monday that there was not “a whisper” of evidence supporting the case’s existence, Yost said his “heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child” and his investigat­ive unit stands ready to support police in the case.

On Thursday, Yost faced intense backlash for his public statements, including a claim that medical exceptions in the Ohio “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban would have allowed the girl to receive her abortion in the state.

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