An attorney for Dr. Caitlin Bernard has threatened legal action against those who “smeared” her client, insisting the Indianapolis physician complied with the law in treating a 10-year-old Ohio girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion.
Attorney Kathleen DeLaney said that her client “took every appropriate and proper action in accordance with the law and both her medical and ethical training as a physician.”
“She followed all relevant policies, procedures, and regulations in this case, just as she does every day to provide the best possible care for her patients,” Ms. DeLaney said in a Thursday statement. “She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer. 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.”
Mr. Rokita launched an investigation Wednesday into whether Dr. Bernard complied with reporting laws on child abuse after she told the Indianapolis Star in a July 1 article that she treated a pregnant 10-year-old. The case has become a flashpoint on abortion access since the fall of Roe v. Wade in a Supreme Court ruling last month.
The latest information emerging on the case supports Ms. DeLaney’s insistence that Dr. Bernard followed the law on reporting and privacy.
Dr. Bernard filed a “terminated pregnancy form” on July 2 after performing the abortion on June 30, and indicated that the girl sought the abortion because of abuse, according to the IndyStar and WXIN-TV, citing records from the Indiana Department of Health and the Department of Children Services.
The dates indicate that the forms were filed in time, given that state law requires the filing of such documentation in abuse cases within three days.
NEW: Indiana Dr. Caitlin Bernard reported 10-year-old Ohio girl’s abortion to Indiana health and child welfare officials, records show. https://t.co/Ksfh2skg85 via @indystar
— Tony Cook (@indystartony) July 14, 2022
Indiana University Health said in a Friday statement that an internal investigation found Dr. Bernard complied with “privacy laws,” presumably referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA].
“As part of IU Health’s commitment to patient privacy and compliance with privacy laws, IU Health routinely initiates reviews, including the matters in the news concerning Dr. Caitlin Bernard,” said IU in an email to The Washington Times. “Pursuant to its policy, IU Health conducted an investigation with the full cooperation of Dr. Bernard and other IU Health team members. IU Health’s investigation found Dr. Bernard in compliance with privacy laws.”
President Biden cited the case as an example of states with unreasonably strict abortion laws. The girl was reportedly pregnant for six weeks and three days, fueling a debate over whether she would have qualified for an abortion under Ohio’s heartbeat law.
The White House offered no evidence to support the report. Two fact-checkers, Snopes and the Washington Post, said they were unable to verify the incident, prompting speculation about the report’s accuracy.
On Tuesday, however, police in Columbus, Ohio, charged 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes with first-degree rape in the case. The assistant prosecutor said he is believed to be in the country illegally. The girl’s mother contacted Franklin County Child Services on June 22, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Mr. Rokita’s office said its investigation is ongoing.
“As we stated, we are gathering evidence from multiple sources and agencies related to these allegations. Our legal review of it remains open,” said the office in a Friday statement.
Dr. Bernard posted a tweet Wednesday, her first comment since the July 1 story broke.
“My heart breaks for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse,” she tweeted. “I am so sad that our country is failing them when they need us most. Doctors must be able to give people the medical care they need, when and where they need it.”