Jul 19, 2022 - Health

Doctor who treated 10-year-old rape victim moves to sue state AG for defamation

Picture of Todd Rokita
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Caitlin Bernard, the OB-GYN who provided an abortion on a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was raped, took the first legal step to sue Indiana's attorney general for defamation over his comments alleging medical misconduct.

Driving the news: After news of the child having an abortion gained traction, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said on Fox News that Bernard has a "history of failing to report" abortions to the state, as required by law. In the lawsuit, Bernard's attorneys say that the doctor has no disciplinary history.

  • Under Indiana law, physicians are required to report when an abortion has been performed.

Details: "Mr. Rokita’s statements that Dr. Bernard was an 'abortion activist acting as a doctor' with a 'history of failing to report' were false," the lawsuit says.

  • "Mr. Rokita either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements. Mr. Rokita recklessly and/or negligently failed to ascertain whether the statements about Dr. Bernard’s licensure were true or false before making them."
  • The lawsuit alleges that Rokita's comments "were intended to heighten public condemnation of Dr. Bernard, who legally provided legitimate medical care."
  • Bernard's attorney cites Bernard's employer, IU Health, which conducted an investigation on the issue and found that the doctor was in compliance with Indiana law.

The other side: "This is part of a divisive narrative and an attempt to distract from the important work of the office, including the duty to determine whether practitioners have violated the standards of practice in his or her profession, as well as federal and state laws," a spokesperson for Rokita's office told Axios.

Catch up fast: The story of the Ohio girl who was raped and unable to get an abortion in her home state due to an abortion ban made international headlines, with President Biden using it as an example of the consequences of restrictive abortion laws.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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