Indiana Medical Board Reprimands Doctor Who Publicly Discussed Providing Abortion Services to 10-Year-Old Rape Victim in Ohio


An Indianapolis doctor who publicly revealed she provided abortion services to a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio last year has been reprimanded and fined by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana after determining that the disclosure violated federal and state patient privacy laws.

The board on Thursday said Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was charged with three counts of violating patient privacy laws after Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a lawsuit against the doctor in November.

However, the board dismissed two other allegations in the complaint, determining that it did not violate laws requiring doctors to immediately report suspected cases of child abuse and to keep up to date with mandatory reporting laws. and patient confidentiality.

Bernard will be fined $3,000 and given a letter of reprimand, according to the board, which has agreed to allow him to continue practicing medicine.

The complaint alleged that Bernard violated patient confidentiality law when she discussed the girl’s case without the consent of the patient or a guardian — even without using her name — over the summer with the Indianapolis Star.

The revelation of why the Ohio girl took her medical trip to Indiana, days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ending federal abortion rights, helped bring Bernard into the national debate over abortion rights in the county.

Bernard told CNN last year that she provided the child with abortion services in late June and the girl traveled to Indiana for the procedure because Ohio, after the ruling Roe, had generally prohibited abortions after detection of early heart activity, about six weeks. in a pregnancy. The girl was six weeks and three days pregnant, Bernard said.

At the time of the procedure, Indiana allowed abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization. The state then passed a law that would ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy with limited exceptions for rape or incest or to save the woman’s life, prevent any serious health risk to the woman and for fatal fetal anomalies. However, this law has been temporarily blocked, pending legal battles.

The case quickly became a flashpoint in the post-Roe clash over abortion rights. Several GOP politicians and media outlets initially cast skepticism on Bernard’s claims until a man was accused of raping the child and an Ohio detective testified that the girl had suffered an abortion in Indianapolis.

Indiana’s medical licensing board chairman spoke on Thursday about supporting a sanction against Bernard.

“My reason for recommending a letter of reprimand would be that I don’t think she expected it to go viral,” council chair Dr. John Strobel said during the deliberations. “I don’t think she expected that attention to be given to this patient.”

“But I think we as doctors need to be more careful in this situation,” Strobel said. “I think he’s a good doctor. … I think she is safe to return to training.

Cory Voight, co-director of the complex litigation division of the attorney general’s office, said the complaint relates to Bernard’s decision “to tell a reporter from Indiana’s largest newspaper about his patient.”

“The effect of this decision is that everyone, the country, learned of his patient’s existence. I learned that a 10-year-old girl had been raped and had an abortion,” Voight said in his opening speech.

The complaint asked the licensing board to impose “appropriate disciplinary measures”, but did not ask for a specific sanction.

Bernard’s attorney dismissed Rokita’s complaint as a “last ditch effort to intimidate” her and other abortion providers. Bernard maintained that she did not disclose protected details about the child.

“I have not disclosed any protected health information. I have complied with all patient privacy laws and HIPAA to the best of my knowledge,” Bernard said Thursday. there was no information that I released that led to her being identified.”

Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, said in July it had reviewed the case and determined the doctor was “in compliance with privacy laws.”

The complaint alleged that Bernard failed to follow proper procedures for reporting child abuse to Indiana authorities after the abortion services were provided.

After deliberations on Thursday, the state medical board concluded that Bernard did not violate procedures and declared her not at fault.

Bernard told the council that she immediately informed a social worker at the hospital of the possible abuse. The social worker testified that she had contacted officials in Ohio, where the abuse took place, and that authorities were already investigating the matter.

Bernard reported the abortion procedure to the Indiana Department of Health on July 2 — two days after it was performed — as required by the department, according to agency documents obtained by CNN.

She told the licensing board on Thursday that she also submitted the report, which noted the abuse, to the Indiana Department of Children’s Services. The department had previously declined to publicly confirm whether it had received a report from Bernard, citing the privacy law.


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