Indiana lawyer sends cease and desist about abortion doctor

Midwest

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive healthcare provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. The lawyer for Bernard, an Indiana doctor at the center of a political firestorm after speaking out about a 10-year-old child abuse victim who traveled from Ohio for an abortion, said Thursday, JUly 14, 2022, that her client provided proper treatment and did not violate any patient privacy laws in discussing the unidentified girl’s case. (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A lawyer on Friday emailed the Indiana state’s attorney general asking him to stop spreading false or misleading information about an Indianapolis doctor who performed an abortion in June on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.

Attorney Kathleen DeLaney sent the “cease and desist” letter to Indiana Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita on behalf of obstetrician-gynecologist Caitlin Bernard, who performed a medical abortion on the girl.

The letter says Rokita’s statements Wednesday on Fox News “cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and allege misconduct in her profession.” DeLaney said the doctor could file a defamation claim against Rokita if he does not comply.

Rokita told Fox that his office was investigating whether Bernard violated medical privacy laws by talking about the victim to the Indianapolis Star, and he said she failed to notify authorities about suspected child abuse. He offered no specific allegations of wrongdoing.

Records obtained by The Associated Press and other local media outlets show Bernard submitted the report on July 2, which is within the state’s required three-day reporting period for an abortion performed on a girl younger than 16.

“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 patents safely,” the letter states.

A 27-year-old man has been charged in the girl’s rape, confirming the case that was scrutinized by Republican politicians and some media outlets. Those reactions grew in intensity after Democratic President Joe Biden expressed sympathy for the girl when signing an executive order protecting some abortion access last week.

“Like any correspondence, it will be reviewed if and when it arrives. Regardless, no false or misleading statements have been made,” Kelly Stevenson, a spokesperson in Rokita’s office, said via email.

Bernard tweeted Friday that she hopes “to be able to share my story soon.”

“It has been a difficult week, but my colleagues and I will continue to provide healthcare ethically, lovingly, and bravely each and every day,” she wrote.

Dr. Diana Contreras, chief health care officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued a statement saying, “No medical provider should be harassed, intimidated, or criminalized for doing their job. It is unconscionable and unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

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