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AG Rokita seeks to punish Dr. Caitlin Bernard for 'exploiting' 10-year-old's 'traumatic medical story'

Bernard's lawyers said the administrative action 'ignores evidence and aims to intimidate physicians'
Dr Caitlin Bernard.jpg
Posted at 12:46 PM, Nov 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-30 12:46:59-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Attorney General Todd Rokita wants the state Medical Licensing Board to punish Dr. Caitlin Bernard for telling a reporter about a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who traveled to Indiana for an abortion after the procedure was outlawed in her home state last summer.

"The physician failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic responsibilities by exploiting a 10-year-old little girl's traumatic medical story to the press for her own interests," Rokita's office announced Wednesday in a news release. "Dr. Bernard violated the law, her patient’s trust and the standards for the medical profession when she disclosed her patient’s abuse, medical issues, and medical treatment to a reporter at an abortion rights rally to further her political agenda."

Rokita's office on Wednesday filed an Administrative Action asking the licensing board to sanction Bernard. If she's found to have violated professional standards, possible sanctions could include an admonishment, a suspension or revocation of her medical license.

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Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician/gynecologist, was thrust into the national spotlight shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade after she was quoted in Indianapolis media about an abortion she was performing on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. The girl traveled to Indiana for the procedure after abortions later than six weeks of pregnancy had been outlawed in the child's home state.

President Joe Biden commented on the case. Rokita appeared on Fox News and called Bernard an "abortion activist acting as a doctor."

Roikita's office claims the doctor's own testimony in Marion County on Nov. 21 is evidence that she wrongly disclosed the child's medical information to media and that she failed to immediately report the girl's rape to Indiana authorities.

"Only Indiana authorities could have possibly stopped this little girl from being sent home to endure possible future harm by her alleged rapist," Rokita's office said in the news release.

"As the Office of the Attorney General, it is our duty to ensure that doctors meet the standard of care," Rokita's office said in the news release. "In our opinion, Dr. Bernard fell short in this situation."

Bernard's lawyer Kathleen DeLaney said the administrative case "ignores evidence and aims to intimidate physicians."

“The Administrative Action filed today by Mr. Rokita is clearly a last-ditch effort to intimidate Dr. Bernard and other providers of abortion care," DeLaney said in a statement. "Mr. Rokita is doubling down on the frivolous consumer complaints by referring them to the licensing authorities."

DeLaney said the latest action is no surprise "given Mr. Rokita’s consistent efforts to use his office to seek to punish those with whom he disagrees at the expense of Indiana taxpayers."

In a related legal case, Bernard took the witness stand in Marion County last week seeking to block Rokita from accessing private medical records. The attorney general said he needed those records to investigate complaints against Bernard's medical license. Marion Superior Judge Heather Welch has not yet ruled on Bernard's request for an injunction.

"No crimes have been committed," Bernard testified during the hearing. "The complaints are invalid."

Bernard testified that police in Ohio had been investigating before she even agreed to perform the child's abortion. Bernard also testified that the girl's abuse was reported to Indiana authorities through a report that was filed by an IU Health social worker.

“As a physician, I never imagined that I would need to engage in a legal battle to protect the rights of women and girls to not have their private medical records released for political purposes," Bernard said in a statement released on Nov. 22, the day after she testified.

"I feel strongly that this fight — the fight for physicians to compassionately provide abortion care to every single person who needs their care and to fight for their patients’ access to safe, legal abortion care, free from fear of criminalization — is worth waging."

PREVIOUS | 'The complaints are invalid': Dr. Caitlin Bernard defends her reputation amid attacks from AG Rokita | Attorney for Caitlin Bernard files tort claim notice against Indiana AG Todd Rokita | Records show Indy doctor properly reported abortion for 10-year-old rape victim, AG still investigating | Indy abortion doctor sends 'cease & desist' to Indiana AG over 'inflammatory accusations'

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at or on Twitter: @vicryc.

Read the full lawsuit filed Nov. 3 below.