INDIANAPOLIS — Lawyers for an Indiana abortion doctor have filed a lawsuit against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita to keep him from accessing her private patient medical records.
The lawsuit, was filed Thursday on behalf of Caitlin Bernard, M.D. her medical partner, Amy Caldwell, M.D. and their patients by Kathleen Delaney of DeLaney and DeLaney LLC along with Arnold & Porter.
"This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent Defendants from exceeding their authority under Indiana law by flouting the Indiana General Assembly's carefully crafted structure for regulating physicians and other licensed professionals," the lawsuit reads. "Unless this Court intervenes, Defendants will continue to unlawfully harass physicians and patients who are engaged in completely legal conduct and even though neither the physicians nor patients have any complaints about their relationship."
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According to a press release issued by the attorney's office on Thursday "The filing asserts that Rokita ignored Indiana law and issued subpoenas for medical records based on complaints from individuals who have never been a patient of either doctor, who lack any personal knowledge of their work and that provide no explanation of their validity. In fact, the records he requested were of patients who did not themselves file complaints about Bernard or Caldwell, which is blatant hypocrisy, given that Rokita himself claimed that Bernard violated patient privacy. So far, Rokita has issued at least five subpoenas that DeLaney’s office knows of; however, there are potentially more as he has been sending them directly to persons and entities which may have medical records, without notifying Bernard, Caldwell, or their attorneys."
In an email, Kelly Stevenson, a spokeswoman for Rokita's office, provided the following statement to WRTV:
“By statutory obligation, we investigate thousands of potential licensing, privacy, and other violations a year. A majority of the complaints we receive are, in fact, from nonpatients. Any investigations that arise as a result of potential violations are handled in a uniform manner and narrowly focused. We will discuss this particular matter further through the judicial filings we make."
Bernard's story garnered national attention after a local newspaper connected her to a 10-year-old victim who allegedly traveled from Ohio to Indiana to have an abortion after being raped.
Following that report, Rokita appeared on Fox News calling out Bernard and vowing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the abortion as well as whether or not she had followed proper reporting procedures.
Bernard's attorney responded with a written statement provided to WRTV as well as the legal documents showing that she had properly reported the abortion within the legally required timeframe. WRTV also filed an open records request and obtained the same records from DCS.
That report shows that the abortion was reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services and received by the Indiana Department of Health on July 2. According to Indiana Code, doctors are required to submit the report within three days after the abortion if the patient is under 14.
In July, Bernard received six “consumer complaint” notices from the Indiana Attorney General's office. She then filed Notice of Tort Claim against Rokita and the Office of the Indiana Attorney General for false and defamatory statements made against her.
Bernard's attorney said they were also exploring additional "legal remedies" to hold Rokita accountable at the time.
Read the full lawsuit filed Nov. 3 below.