Indianapolis, Indiana – The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana has recently reprimanded an Indianapolis-based obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, for breaching patient privacy laws. This follows her public disclosure in which she indicated having facilitated abortion services for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. Despite the punitive measures, which include a $3,000 fine and a letter of reprimand, the board has allowed Dr. Bernard to continue her medical practice.
Last year, Dr. Bernard shared details about the young patient’s case in an interview with the Indianapolis Star, which brought her under scrutiny. Although she maintained the patient’s anonymity, the discussion was deemed by the board as a violation of federal and state patient privacy laws. These findings were reached after a complaint lodged against Dr. Bernard by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.
However, the board dismissed two other claims made in the complaint, concluding that Dr. Bernard hadn’t contravened laws related to mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or maintaining awareness of patient privacy laws and reporting requirements.
The patient’s case, as described by Dr. Bernard, highlighted the girl’s need to travel to Indiana for the abortion procedure. This came in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court, which effectively rescinded the federal right to abortion. The Ohio native sought the procedure in Indiana due to her home state’s restrictions on abortions following the detection of cardiac activity, typically around the sixth week of pregnancy.
Dr. Bernard’s involvement in the case became a significant point of discussion in the national dialogue on abortion rights post the Roe v. Wade decision. Initial skepticism about her assertions from Republican politicians and media outlets eased when an individual was charged with raping the child, and an Ohio detective verified that the child had indeed undergone the abortion in Indianapolis.
Since this incident, Indiana has adopted a law prohibiting abortions at any stage of pregnancy, except in circumstances involving rape, incest, the mother’s life being at risk, serious health hazards, or in the presence of lethal fetal abnormalities.