INDIANAPOLIS — Dr. Caitlin Bernard took the stand Monday during a hearing to stop Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office from obtaining the medical records of one of her abortion patients.
After nearly four hours in the courtroom, Judge Heather Welch ended the day’s proceedings by saying she planned to decide on the request for a preliminary injunction next week.
“We were very pleased that the evidence confirmed what we’ve been saying from the very beginning,” attorney Kathleen Delaney said. “Which is that Dr. Bernard fully complied with all requirements for reporting the care that she provided, and she did nothing wrong and nothing to warrant an ongoing investigation. We learned today that they are continuing to investigate all of these complaints even though the evidence is clear that they are bogus, and they are from people that have no connection to the doctor whatsoever.”
Bernard is suing the attorney general's office, arguing statements he made on Fox News have negatively impacted her reputation. Her side argues the investigations are based on "invalid consumer complaints" from people without any firsthand knowledge of the case or the young rape victim.
“I have filed it to protect my patient’s confidential medical records,” Bernard said on the stand.
The doctor was launched into the national spotlight after the IndyStar reported she was consulted to provide an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. The state had recently passed an abortion law that prevented most abortions after six weeks.
During Monday’s hearing, Bernard stated the newspaper reporter first overheard a conversation with another doctor at a rally on the IU campus. Bernard said the reporter followed up to confirm the account she overheard.
Now, the attorney general's office is investigating if Bernard violated the patient’s privacy and federal law by discussing the consultation. Deputy Attorney General Mary Hutchison testified the office is investigating if the doctor properly reported the case to local Indiana law enforcement and the Indiana Department of Child Services.
“We know that she reported multiple days after she came in contact with the rape victim not immediately,” Hutchison said on the stand. “That is what we’re looking at.”
The attorney general's office believes Bernard was required to immediately report the case of suspected child abuse to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indiana DCS, even if Ohio authorities had been notified.
Bernard testified she knew the case had already been reported and was under investigation by police in Ohio. The doctor said she was assisting with that investigation, and she did not believe state law required her to make a duplicate report with IMPD or Indiana DCS. On the stand, we also learned she did notify a hospital social worker the rape victim would be coming days before the abortion took place.
Following the hearing, Kelly Stevenson, Rokita's press secretary, didn’t answer questions, but did give a statement:
“If the doctor did not choose to use her patient as a 10-year-old victim to further her political agenda we would not be here today,” Stevenson said. “There is no defensible reason for this doctor to shatter her 10-year-old patient’s trust by divulging her abortion procedure to a reporter, so her traumatizing experience could be used in a polarizing abortion debate on the heels of Dobbs. The evidence strongly suggests that the doctor violated the mandatory reporting law which required her to immediately report the child’s abuse to Indiana authorities. Only by reporting to Indiana authorities immediately, as called for by statute, might the little girl have been spared from potentially being sent back to her perpetrator. This doctor demands immunity from all scrutiny but her remedy is before the medical licensing board not an injunction from this court. We believe she has failed to carry out her burden of proof and that the office of the attorney general should be free to continue its statutory duty to hold physicians and other practitioners to the standard of law.”