(LifeSiteNews) — Last week, a medical doctor filed a lawsuit against Indiana’s attorney general in an attempt to block him from accessing records of a 10-year-old’s controversial abortion.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an obstetrician-gynecologist in the state’s capital, is suing Attorney General Todd Rokita to block a subpoena of patient records, which is part of an investigation into the report of an abortion committed on a young rape victim.
The investigation was sparked by complaints that Bernard did not follow the law regarding the situation, which involved a patient traveling out of state to kill her unborn baby when her home state banned abortion.
“This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent Defendants from exceeding their authority under Indiana law by flouting the Indiana General Assembly’s carefully crafted structure for regulating physicians and other licensed professionals,” the complaint states. “Unless this court intervenes, Defendants will continue to unlawfully harass physicians and patients who are engaged in completely legal conduct and even though neither the physicians nor patients have any complaints about their relationship.”
The lawsuit was filed by Bernard and colleague Dr. Amy Caldwell, who is also employed by Indiana University (IU) Health Physicians and the IU School of Medicine.
The complaint further argues that Rokita “completely ignored the requirement to determine that consumer complaints have ‘merit’ before he can investigate” and “violated the unambiguous statutory mandate that he keep investigations confidential.”
Qualifications for merited consumer complaints include a presumption that “the complainant engaged in a transaction with the person who is the subject of the complaint” and ensuring that “the complainant has personal knowledge regarding the consumer complaint they are submitting.” A consumer complaint requires details such as the date and place of the incident and information regarding when and how the complainant interacted with the consumer. A “relationship to transaction that took place in Indiana” is also required.
Although the lawsuit alleges that Rokita, along with his Chief Counsel and Director of the Consumer Protection Division Scott Barnhart, are abusing their authority to target pro-abortion doctors and patients, a statement from Rokita’s office claims that the investigation follows protocol.
“By statutory obligation, we investigate thousands of potential licensing, privacy, and other violations a year,” press secretary Kelly Stevenson told LifeSiteNews in an email. “A majority of the complaints we receive are, in fact, from nonpatients. Any investigations that arise as a result of potential violations are handled in a uniform manner and narrowly focused. We will discuss this particular matter further through the judicial filings we make.”
The investigation was launched soon after the incident in July, when Bernard received a call from a colleague in Ohio who was seeking an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim. Ohio’s heartbeat bill took effect after the Dobbs ruling, leading the girl to find an out-of-state abortion. Although the original report of the story did not include documentation that Bernard had properly reported the case, the state later released proof that she had not neglected reporting protocol.
However, the incident exploded across the media, used as an argument to defend the “right to abortion” by those who oppose Roe’s reversal and questioned for its authenticity by pro-lifers. According to the complaint, “seven individuals filed consumer complaints against Dr. Bernard” between July 8 and 12. The concerns claimed that “Bernard was an activist” and questioned “whether she had reported child abuse to the police.” None of the people who submitted complaints claimed to have received personal “transactions” with either Bernard or Caldwell, or did many of them state that they lived in Indiana.
Former Planned Parenthood clinic director and pro-life advocate Abby Johnson expressed support for the investigation and skepticism that the entire story has not yet been told.
“I am thankful that the Attorney General is investigating such an egregious violation against a minor child,” Johnson told LifeSiteNews in a statement today. “This is exactly what we expect of our state officials.”
She continued, “It’s odd to me that any physician would attempt to prevent one of their patients from being fully protected by the law. If Dr. Bernard did everything by the book, then she had nothing to worry about. This lawsuit certainly makes one wonder if she has something to hide.”
In a July 13 letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb, Rokita wrote that “if Dr. Bernard has failed to file the required reports on time, she has committed an offense, the consequences of which could include criminal prosecution and licensing repercussions.”
Weeks after the abortion, an illegal immigrant was arrested and charged with raping the girl at least twice. However, the girl’s mother, who claimed to have been in a relationship with the accused rapist, denied allegations against him, leaving many questions about the case unanswered.
The attorney general’s office told LifeSiteNews that there is no recent update on the investigation and no additional documents are available to the public at this time.