Indiana abortion doctor: Caitlin Bernard fined for talking about 10-year-old girl
By Chelsea BaileyBBC News, Washington25. May 2023
Updated 34 minutes ago
Image Source: The Washington Post via Getty Images
A US doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old has been fined by a medical board after speaking to the media about the case.
Indiana officials say Dr. Caitlin Bernard violated her patient’s privacy after publicly reporting on the girl’s treatment.
Her lawyers claim she has fulfilled her duty to inform the public about the impact of measures such as abortion bans.
The story gained national and global attention at the time.
dr Bernard was fined US$3,000 (£2,425) and given a letter of reprimand.
The Indiana Medical Licensing Board suspended Dr. However, Bernard’s license did not, denying that it was not fit for practice.
In July 2022, a month after a US Supreme Court ruling ended the nationwide abortion guarantee, the Indianapolis Star published an article in which Dr. Bernard’s account of the treatment of a 10-year-old rape survivor is detailed.
The child had traveled to Indiana from neighboring Ohio to have an abortion.
At the time, Ohio law prohibited abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.
As the story gained momentum, pro-choice advocates — including President Joe Biden — used the case as an example of the impact of restrictive abortion bans.
Later that month, an Ohio man was charged with raping the girl, whose name was not released.
Last November, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint alleging that Dr. Bernard failed to promptly report the abuse of the child, as required by state law and to protect the patient’s privacy.
She testified that she followed her hospital’s guidelines in reporting the patient’s abuse to a social worker.
“As a doctor, it is my job to care for the patient, no matter how she comes into my care. It’s not my job to investigate the crime,” she said.
A hearing before the state Medical and Licensing Board was held Thursday that lasted more than 14 hours.
During the hearing, state officials attempted to kill Dr. To portray Bernard as an “abortion activist” who shared details of the procedure with the media without first obtaining permission from the child’s family.
“Trust was violated when[Bernard]tried to advance her own goals,” Assistant Attorney General Cory Voight said of the allegations the doctor was facing. He said if the board agreed to the state’s complaint, Dr. Bernard “unable to practice”.
dr Bernard was partially emotional in her testimony as she spoke about the treatment of other underage patients who were victims of abuse and had requested abortions.
She said she did not violate her patient’s privacy or disclose proprietary health information when discussing the case with the Indianapolis Star.
“I think it’s incredibly important for people to understand the real implications of the laws in this country, be it on abortion or otherwise,” said Dr. Bernard.
“I think it’s important that people know what patients are going through because of the legislation that’s passed.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, the members of the Medical Committee determined that Dr. Bernard violated patient privacy laws, but not doctors’ obligation to report child abuse.
dr Bernard also received a letter of reprimand.
Indiana Medical Board President John Strobel said it was important to protect privacy, but added, “I think she’s a good doctor.”