Todd Rokita says he is looking into Indiana doctor who performed abortion for Ohio 10-year-old

UPDATE: Late Thursday afternoon, IndyStar received a copy of the 10-year-old’s terminated pregnancy report from the Indiana Department of Health. It shows that Bernard reported the abortion before the state’s reporting deadline, and that Bernard indicated the 10-year-old had suffered abuse.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita went on Fox News Wednesday night to say he is looking into the Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who provided a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio with an abortion.

“We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure,” Rokita said. “If she failed to report it in Indiana, it’s a crime for — to not report, to intentionally not report.”

Previously:Ohio man charged in rape of 10-year-old that led to Indiana abortion

The attorney general also claimed that Bernard has “a history of failing to report,” as a part of his roughly 2-minute appearance on the Fox News show “Jesse Watters Primetime.”

Rokita did not provide any evidence to back up his claims.

He later released a statement reiterating his speculation about whether reporting requirements had been followed, and said he was « investigating this situation. » He also said there may be further action if a HIPAA violation occurred, meaning patient information was improperly shared. He did not offer evidence.

« I will not relent in the pursuit of the truth, » he said in his statement.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Indiana Department of Health provided IndyStar a copy of the 10-year-old’s terminated pregnancy report, which was filled out by Bernard.

In the report, Bernard indicated that the girl was seeking an abortion as a result of being abused.

The abortion was reported to the health department and the Indiana Department of Child Services July 2 − two days after the abortion was performed. Indiana law says medical providers have to report abortions within three days if the patient is under 16 years of age.

Bernard’s attorney Kathleen DeLaney said Thursday her client « took every appropriate and proper action in accordance with the law. »

« She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer, » DeLaney said in a statement.

« We are considering legal action against those who have smeared my client, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, and know that the facts will all come out in due time, » she added.

IndyStar has requested a response from Rokita’s office.

Health care providers have to report abortions they perform 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.

Rokita can ask the state’s medical licensing board to discipline a doctor if a consumer has made a substantiated complaint against the doctor. Bernard doesn’t have any record of disciplinary actions, according to her medical license records.

Hundreds of people gather for the Reproductive Justice Rally, Wednesday, June 29, 2022 on the IUPUI campus.

Hundreds of people gather for the Reproductive Justice Rally, Wednesday, June 29, 2022 on the IUPUI campus.

State court data shows no criminal charges have been filed against Bernard. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said it had not received any allegations that she failed to report the case of the 10-year-old.

Prosecutors in Ohio have charged Gerson Fuentes, 27, with rape after he allegedly told police he raped the 10-year-old girl on two occasions. He was arrested Tuesday.

Columbus police said they were made aware of the girl’s pregnancy June 22 after her mother reported it to Franklin County Children Services. She received the abortion in Indianapolis June 30.

HIPAA violations are reported to the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights and can result in fines in cases where a provider gave out unique identifying information such as name, date of birth or address.

OB-GYN’s response:Indianapolis physician responds on Twitter following viral abortion story

Experts respond to Rokita’s statements

Marjorie Hershey, a professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University, said that Rokita used his appearance on Fox News as a political move. Rokita is known as a socially conservative firebrand, unafraid to clash with those who are more moderate within his own party, including Gov. Eric Holcomb. Republicans believe he could eventually seek a higher office, such as the governor’s office or the Senate.

“This sounds like a part of Mr. Rokita’s next campaign for whatever higher office he has in mind,” Hershey said. “It is a series of talking points from the far-right wing of the Republican party in the guise of comments on a very sad situation.”

During Rokita’s Fox News appearance Thursday, he also railed against what he called “fake news” and called the situation an « illegal immigration » issue because the man who was charged with raping the 10-year-old was not believed to be in the country legally. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a sister paper of IndyStar, the man had lived in Columbus for the past seven years and had a steady job at a café.

Chad Kinsella, a Ball State University political science professor, shared similar sentiments to Hershey in that Rokita used his Fox News appearance to “stand out” in a potentially crowded Republican primary.

“Indiana has become a fairly red state,” Kinsella said. “It could be argued that winning the Republican primary is now the key hurdle to winning a senate or gubernatorial seat. … This is a way to be seen by the social conservatives and pro-life conservatives as a champion.”

Kinsella added that the attorney general position has become a “major way” for people to move forward politically, giving Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as an example.

Andy Downs, a political science professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne, said Rokita’s Fox News appearance may be « on brand » and help him with conservative voters, but could be a liability long term. A 2019 Old National Bank and Ball State University Hoosier Survey found that only 17% of Hoosiers think abortion should be illegal in all cases. Rokita could be appealing to that small group of Hoosiers, but losing support from those who have more nuanced views on abortion, Downs said.

« He may have come out as more violently opposed to the doctor and immigration than he should have been then some would say a prosecuting attorney, » Downs said. « Gather the evidence first before you speak too authoritatively. So it may not help him in terms of long-term support. »

Short term though, Downs said Rokita’s comments could impact the debate at the Statehouse as Indiana lawmakers prepare to restrict abortion access when they convene for a special session on July 25. Legislative leaders have not said how far they’ll restrict abortion, but a large point of contention is centered around if there should be exceptions for rape in any sort of abortion ban.

Contact IndyStar reporter Lizzie Kane at Follow her on Twitter: @lizzie_kane17.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita says he is looking into OBGYN

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