The Indiana doctor who provided abortion services for a 10-year-old girl who was raped is now being investigated by the state’s attorney general, according to a lawyer for the doctor.
A notice from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita of his inquiry into Dr. Caitlin Bernard arrived Tuesday, attorney Kathleen DeLaney said.
“We are in the process of reviewing this information. It’s unclear to us what is the nature of the investigation and what authority he has to investigate Dr. Bernard,” DeLaney said.
CNN has reached out to Rokita for comment. The attorney general had previously announced he would investigate Bernard for potential failure to report the abortion and possible violation of patient privacy laws.
The inquiry notice is the latest development in a drama that has thrust Bernard to the forefront of the debate over abortion rights in the United States in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade on June 24 and ended the federal right to abortion.
Bernard helped the 10-year-old after Ohio banned almost all abortions after six weeks of gestation, she told CNN earlier this month, adding that the girl was six weeks and three days into the pregnancy. Within a week of the Supreme Court ruling, the girl underwent the procedure in Indiana.
Under Indiana law, an abortion performed on a person younger than 16 years of age must be reported to the state’s Department of Health and also to the Department of Child Services within three days of the abortion.
Bernard reported the abortion procedure to the Indiana Department of Health on July 2 – two days after it was performed – as required by the department, according to agency documents obtained by CNN.
In response to CNN’s reporting, Rokita’s office said: “As we stated, we are gathering evidence from multiple sources and agencies related to these allegations. Our legal review of it remains open.”
CNN has reached out to the Indiana Department of Child Services to inquire if Bernard also filed the report with its office.
Bernard practices at Indiana University Health and serves as an assistant professor at the school. Her employer conducted a review in this case – with Bernard’s “full cooperation” – and determined she was “in compliance with privacy laws,” IU Health said in a statement July 15.
In an Ohio criminal court on Monday, the man charged with raping the girl pleaded not guilty to felony rape charges. The girl had identified Gerson Fuentes, 27, as her assaulter before his arrest, according to an affidavit, and one detective has testified that Fuentes confessed to police.
Bernard said in an interview Tuesday that some people are starting to realize the impact of anti-abortion laws is “actually not what they intended,” as pregnant people are being put in life-threatening and dangerous situations.
“I think we’re at a time in our country where people are starting to realize the impact of these anti-abortion laws and now when it’s finally become impossible for some people, I think people realize that that is actually not what they intended, that is not what they want for children, for women, to be put in these situations of life-threatening conditions of traumatic pregnancies,” Bernard told “CBS Evening News.”
When asked how things have changed since the overturning of Roe v. Wade and if the situation is worse than she imagined, she said, “We’re hearing stories all across the country of people who are in dire circumstances, complications of their pregnancies or traumatic situations and are needing abortion care and not able to get it .”
“It’s worse, faster,” she added.
“You know, this will affect our ability to take care of miscarriages,” Bernard said. “This will affect our ability to take care of complications in early pregnancy that could kill someone. This will affect our ability to provide infertility treatment, contraception, the list goes on.”
Rokita has previously publicly called Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor,” and Bernard responded to that characterization.
“I am a physician,” Bernard said. “I’ve spent my entire life working to have this position, to be able to take care of patients every single day.”
She also denied violating any privacy laws or failing to report any abortions.
Last week, Bernard’s attorneys filed a tort claim notice against Rokita and his office in the first steps toward a possible defamation lawsuit for public comments he has made about Bernard, seeking “damages for security costs, legal fees, reputational harm, and emotional distress, ” according to a letter.
The attorney general’s office dismissed the letter and said in a statement it would “defense against baseless claims.”
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