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AG Rokita receives ‘cease and desist’ from doctor in 10-year-old’s abortion

By Whitney Downard and Casey Smith

Indiana Capital Chronicle

July 15, 2022

An attorney representing an Indianapolis doctor has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Attorney General Todd Rokita (above, right) advising him to stop making false and misleading statements about the doctor who oversaw a medication abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.

Rokita publicly announced he would investigate Dr. Caitlin Bernard, accusing her of not filing the proper paperwork after performing the medical procedure. Filings received through a public records request confirmed the appropriate forms had been filed.

“We are especially concerned that given the controversial political context of the statements, such inflammatory accusations have the potential to incite harassment or violence from the public which could prevent Dr. Bernard, an Indiana licensed physician, from providing care to her (patients) safely,” the letter to Rokita from attorney Kathleen DeLaney states.

guest essay printed in The New York Times by Bernard’s colleague Tracey A. Wilkinson said local police had been alerted to concerns for Bernard’s personal safety.

Bernard, an OBGYN, filed a terminated pregnancy report for the minor on July 2 after telling the IndyStar about the procedure previously. According to the filing, she performed the abortion on June 30.

The child came to Indiana from Ohio because her pregnancy was just beyond Ohio’s 6-week abortion ban. Bernard also filed a secondary document indicating the reason for the abortion was abuse.

Rokita’s office responded late Friday that “like any correspondence, it will be reviewed if and when it arrives. Regardless, no false or misleading statements have been made.”

Prominent Republicans, including Rokita and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, accused Bernard of manufacturing the story. On Wednesday, the IndyStar reported that a man had been charged in the assault.

“We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report. So we’re gathering information,” Rokita told Fox News on Wednesday. “We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure. If she failed to report it in Indiana, it’s a crime for – to not report, to intentionally not report.”

Indiana Right to Life in 2018 accused eight abortion doctors of not filing the appropriate documents for young girls receiving abortions – including Bernard. Indiana’s online license search shows no discipline records for Bernard.

On Thursday, the Indiana State Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates LaKimba DeSadier, released a statement taking anti-abortion lawmakers to task.

“These lawmakers are using a 10 year old’s tragedy as an excuse to intimidate abortion providers and patients, and scare them out of legal, safe health care,” DeSadier said. “Every person, in every circumstance, deserves access to healthcare when and where they need it. I want all patients to know our Planned Parenthood health centers in Indiana are open and welcoming to patients from every state.”

Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said Democrat offices had received calls from Hoosiers “in disgust over” Rokita’s actions in the 10-year-old’s abortion.

“Instead of apologizing for his egregious claim that the story of a child seeking abortion in Indiana was false, our AG has chosen to pivot to baselessly attacking a doctor for doing her job and providing potentially life-saving health care to a child in need,” Taylor said. “We fervently wish our AG would focus on actually doing his job and leave healthcare to those who went to medical school.”

Rokita’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening.

Indiana Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Indiana Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Niki Kelly for questions: info@indianacapitalchronicle.com.