Court Battles

Indiana OB/GYN drops lawsuit against AG over investigation into abortion for 10-year-old rape victim

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive healthcare provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally on June 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

An Indiana doctor who gained national attention for providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio over the summer dropped her lawsuit against Indiana’s attorney general on Thursday.

A state judge last week rejected Dr. Caitlin Bernard’s request to block Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s (R) investigation into her over several consumer complaints filed with Rokita’s office, but the judge acknowledged that Rokita violated state law by publicly disclosing the investigation.

“With today’s voluntary dismissal, we preserve our victory in court proving that the Attorney General violated Indiana law by publicly discussing the details of an investigation into Dr. Bernard which he was statutorily required to keep confidential at that stage,” Kathleen DeLaney, Bernard’s attorney, said in a statement.

Bernard gained significant media attention after it was revealed that the 10-year child was denied an abortion in Ohio in the days following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe. v Wade, causing the child to travel across state lines to receive an abortion from Bernard.

Rokita launched an investigation into Bernard based on several consumer complaints, alleging she failed to report the abuse of the child to appropriate authorities and violated patient confidentiality through her interview with the Indianapolis Star.

Bernard had disputed the complaints’ merit, describing the investigation as “baseless” in court documents. 

Rokita referred the issue to the licensing board last week.

The judge indicated in her ruling denying Bernard’s request for an injunction that the court no longer has jurisdiction over whether the complaints have merit because of Rokita’s referral.

“We are now shifting all our attention to the complaint Mr. Rokita has filed against Dr. Bernard with the Medical Licensing Board,” DeLaney said.

“We look forward to defending Dr. Bernard and her medical license against Rokita’s baseless attacks. Rokita’s actions set a dangerous precedent imperiling the provision of lawful patient care and jeopardizing the confidentiality of patient medical records,” she added. “And Rokita continues to take these actions at taxpayer expense.”

“Her decision to withdraw her suit less than a week after our win in court is further confirmation that she was putting her political agenda above the privacy and safety of her 10-year-old patient,” said a spokesperson for Rokita’s office. “At the same time any of the court’s extraneous verbiage about the attorney general’s comments didn’t have legal value as the court itself acknowledged.”

Tags abortion Caitlin bernard Indiana Katleen DeLaney Medical Licensing Board Ohio Roe v. Wade Todd Rokita Todd Rokita

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