Board Votes to Reprimand 10-Year-Old's Abortion Doctor

But Indiana board won't suspend Caitlin Bernard's license to practice medicine
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2023 9:17 AM CDT
10-Year-Old's Abortion Doctor Is Keeping Her License
Dr. Caitlin Bernard raises her right hand as she is sworn in Thursday, May 25, 2023, during a hearing in front of the state medical board at the Indiana Government South building in downtown Indianapolis.   (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

Indiana's Medical Licensing Board has ruled that a doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio girl can continue practicing medicine—but she will be reprimanded for what the board decided was a breach of privacy law. Dr. Caitlin Bernard will be fined $3,000, but the board declined to suspend her license as state Attorney General Todd Rokita had requested, the Indianapolis Star reports. The board unanimously cleared Bernard of the charge that she had failed to report the girl's abuse quickly enough. Bernard told the board Thursday that she had followed reporting requirements—and the case was being investigated by police in Ohio before she even saw the patient.

In what Bernard's supporters described as a vendetta, Rokita, who is strongly anti-abortion, announced an investigation last year after the doctor disclosed that the girl had come to Indiana for an abortion because she couldn't get one in Ohio. The case received nationwide media attention. At the hearing Thursday, Bernard's attorney pushed back against claims from state attorneys that she had broken privacy laws by giving a Star reporter enough information to make it possible to identify the girl. "What she shared was age, gender, and state," said witness Paige Joyner, a privacy compliance officer. "That’s not protected health information."

Deputy Attorney General Cory Voight accused Bernard of being "brazen" in pursuit of her "own agenda," the AP reports. The doctor countered that the hearing would not be taking place if Rokita "had not chosen to make this his political stunt." When Voight asked her why she hadn't used a hypothetical example instead of discussing the girl's case, Bernard said: "I think that it’s incredibly important for people to understand the real-world impacts of the laws of this country about abortion." (More Caitlin Bernard stories.)

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