An Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old girl and then shared details about the procedure with the media has been reprimanded by the state medical board.
The Indiana State Medical Licensing Board voted Thursday to reprimand Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis doctor, and fine her $3,000, saying she violated privacy laws and medical ethics standards, Fox News reported.
Bernard was also accused by Indiana’s Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, of violating state law by not reporting the 10-year-old’s pregnancy as evidence of child sexual abuse, but the medical licensing board rejected that accusation.
The attorney general called Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor” and also wanted the board to suspend Bernard’s license, but they refused to do so, according to Fox News.
Deputy Attorney General Cory Voight spoke to the board and argued Bernard committed an “egregious violation” of patient privacy by sharing details about the child’s situation with the media. Also, Bernard’s failure to report the child abuse immediately to police or Indiana’s child protective agency resulted in “a child returning to live with her rapist for five days in Ohio,” Voight said.
“Everyone – the country – learned about her patient. Learned a 10-year-old little girl was raped and had an abortion,” Voight said, adding that “no physician has been as brazen in pursuit of their own agenda.”
Bernard accused the deputy attorney general of pulling a “political stunt” with the situation.
Bernard insisted she had followed Indiana’s reporting requirements, notifying an Indiana University Health social worker and confirming the child abuse was already being investigated in Ohio, where the girl lived.
The 10-year-old traveled to Indiana from Ohio for the abortion less than a week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in June last year. The court’s decision triggered a six-week abortion ban to take effect in Ohio, and the girl was reportedly six weeks and three days pregnant.
The girl’s family initially took her to an Ohio doctor, who called Bernard and asked if Bernard could help by performing the girl’s abortion in Indiana instead.
Bernard’s legal team argued that she did not give identifying information about the girl to the Indianapolis Star reporter who wrote the initial story about the 10-year-old’s abortion. She and her legal team emphasized that Bernard did not expect the story to go viral in the way it did.
Asked why she had shared details of the girl’s situation with the reporter, Bernard said, “I think that it’s incredibly important for people to understand the real-world impacts of the laws of this country about abortion.”
“I think it’s important for people to know what patients will have to go through because of legislation that is being passed, and a hypothetical does not make that impact,” Bernard said.
The president of the medical licensing board, Dr. John Strobel, called Bernard “a good doctor” during the 14-hour board hearing. He said he is “certain that Dr. Bernard has learned a lot about privacy.”
Besides being an OB/GYN, Bernard is an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.