A doctor in the United States could lose her license for performing an abortion on a 10-year-old girl who had been raped

Dr. Caitlin Bernard (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP, File)

On June 27, 2022, just three days after the United States Supreme Court struck down roe v. Wadeand thus the federal protection of the right to abortion, Dr. caitlin bernardan obstetrician and gynecologist in the state of indianapolis, received a call. On the other end of the phone was a colleague who specialized in child abuse from Ohioa state that hours after the ruling had prohibited any abortion after six weeksa decision that was in effect for about two months before being put on hold while a lawsuit is developed.

The doctor had a patient who, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, was in a particularly complicated situation: a 10-year-old girl who had been raped, and who was six weeks and three days pregnant.

Abortion is legal in Indiana. Thus, the girl soon passed into the care of Bernard, with whom she was able to legally terminate the pregnancy.

Joe Biden he quoted the story after signing an executive order on abortion: “Ten years. Raped, six weeks pregnant. Already traumatized. She was forced to travel to another state.”

Before the rapist’s arrest in July 2022, some conservatives, including Ohio’s attorney general, Todd Rockitacast doubt on the facts, which were first revealed when Bernard spoke with The Indianapolis Starin a note that delved into the trauma of Indiana patients, forced to travel to neighboring states to receive abortion services.

Biden cited the story after signing an executive order on abortion (REUTERS / Megan Jelinger)
Biden cited the story after signing an executive order on abortion (REUTERS / Megan Jelinger)

“It always amazes me that people are surprised when they hear these stories,” said the doctor in an interview with The New York Times. “The fact that anyone questions such a story is a testament to how out of touch legislators and politicians are with reality.”

But speaking publicly brought its consequences.

Rokita, who is against abortion, told foxnews that he would investigate Bernard’s actions, calling her an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”

Bernard tried unsuccessfully to block Rokita’s investigation last year, though an Indianapolis judge wrote that Rokita committed “clearly unlawful violations” of state confidentiality laws with its public comments about investigating the doctor before filing the medical leave complaint. against him.

“Doctors who perform abortions have been harassed, killed,” said Bernard to the Times. “And for too long, I think, because of that, they’ve had to keep quiet to protect their families, and it’s created the idea that we’re doing something wrong or illegal. And it is not true. And I feel compelled to say that.”

Rokita’s investigation was based on whether the doctor had reported the Ohio girl’s miscarriage to Indiana state officials, as required by law; records show that she did.

Bernard’s case is especially troubling to all of his colleagues in the US, who are watching him closely amid a terrifying landscape, one that has them undecided and fearful of running afoul of the ever-changing law as they risk their lives and professions to save lifes.

A man who worked escorting women at an Ohio reproductive rights clinic during 2021, to avoid harassment by anti-abortion activists (REUTERS / Gaelen Morse)
A man who worked escorting women at an Ohio reproductive rights clinic during 2021, to avoid harassment by anti-abortion activists (REUTERS / Gaelen Morse)

Several medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, had exposed the ethical dilemma facing doctors in a report. amicus curiae before the Supreme Court in the case Dobbs v. Jacksonwhich concluded with the historic ruling that annulled roe v. Wade: “The ban forces doctors to make an impossible choice between meeting their ethical obligations and complying with the law..

And the situation continues to get complicated for Bernard: he could face disciplinary measures. She is charged with violating state law by failing to report child abuse, and violating federal patient privacy laws by telling a reporter about the girl’s treatment. The hearing will be held before the Medical Licensing Board.

Bernard’s lawyers maintain that the doctor followed the state’s child abuse reporting requirements, never releasing any identifying information about the girl that would violate privacy laws.

The board is made up of six doctors and a lawyer appointed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. He will have to vote on whether to impose any sanctions on Thursday, after the testimony ends. You can issue warning letters or suspend, revoke or put Bernard’s medical license on probation.

This would jeopardize the professional activity of a doctor whose abortion practice is only a small part of what she does on a daily basis, but extremely important. She specializes in complex cases of termination of pregnancy, those where the life of the mother is in danger, at the Indiana University School of Medicine Medical Center. It also offers abortions, both surgical and medical, several days a month at Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana and Kentucky.

“Rokita is launching a politically motivated attack on Dr. Bernard to scare abortion providers out of providing the safe and legal care their patients deserve,” it said in a statement. rebecca gibron, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. “But her exaggerated accusations don’t scare us. We’ve said it before: We will not be intimidated by power-hungry extremist legislators like Todd Rokita.”

“Everyone, in all circumstances, deserves to have access to healthcare when and where they need it.”

Keep reading:

Key week for abortion in the United States: where they seek to restrict it and how the fight continues at the national level
Abortion pill in the US: what is happening and what could happen in the future

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