INDIANAPOLIS — Dr. Caitlin Bernard took the witness stand Monday to defend attacks on her reputation and to block Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita from accessing private medical records of an abortion she performed on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.
"No crimes have been committed," Bernard testified in Marion Superior Court Monday. "The complaints are invalid."
Bernard testified as part of a civil case that has become part of a bigger a showdown over abortion rights across the country after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The obstetrician/gynecologist was thrust into the national spotlight last summer when she was quoted in Indianapolis media speaking about an abortion she performed on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who traveled to Indianapolis because the procedure had been outlawed in her home state.
Days after the report, President Joe Biden commented on the child's case. Rokita told Fox News reporters that his office was investigating whether Bernard's comments and actions had violated professional standards or the law.
Lawyers for Rokita say they need the patient records so they can determine whether the doctor violated privacy laws or rules of professional conduct by speaking to a reporter about the girl's abortion.
They said the doctor violated patient confidentiality of her patient when she told a reporter about the girl's case.
"There's simply no scenario where a reporter is on a need-to-know basis," Caryn Nieman-Szyper, a lawyer for Rokita's office, told the judge.
Bernard testified that Rokita's office is not entitled to the child's records.
"I believe that there is information in the medical record that should not be released to the Attorney General given that there is no need for that information to be released for any reason," Bernard said.
The doctor said she's received threats after Rokita's remarks in the national media. She said her reputation has been damaged and she fears for her employment.
In prior testimony Monday, Mary Hutchison, the Attorney General's section chief of licensing enforcement, defended the office's investigation into Bernard's medical license.
Investigators need those records so they can make sure Bernard followed the rules, Hutchinson said.
"We have been unable to determine whether or not she spoke to local law enforcement or (the Department of Child Service) immediately," Hutchinson said. "We’re still looking to see if the reporting requirements have been met and we’re still investigating the allegations of the violation of privacy."
Bernard testified that police in Ohio were already investigating the case before she had agreed to perform the abortion. Bernard also said she fully reported the abuse to Indiana authorities through a report filed by an IU Health social worker.
Judge Welch took the issue under advisement. She said she intends to issue a ruling by next week.
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Read the full lawsuit filed Nov. 3 below.