After his failed attempts to discipline an Indiana doctor who provided emergency abortion care to a 10-year-old rape survivor, the anti-abortion Republican attorney general is now suing his employer.
Adding to his lawsuit, he faces three ethics charges from the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, which found that Todd Rokita’s statements to right-wing media and elsewhere about Dr.
On May 25, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board found that Dr. Bernard violated privacy laws by briefly speaking to a reporter about the case, which drew international attention after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to revoke a constitutional right to abortion care.
Dr. Bernard’s patient arrived from Ohio, where abortions in the sixth week of pregnancy were virtually forbidden, with no exceptions for rape and incest. Although she told a generalized anecdote in which no one was identified, the case attracted national attention and highlighted the far-reaching consequences of comprehensive abortion bans.
The doctor also faced the wrath of GOP officials who falsely claimed the crime against the 10-year-old girl was a hoax, demanded access to criminal and medical records or accused her of failing to inform law enforcement about her patient’s case to inform.
During an appearance on Fox News, Mr. Rokita called her “an abortion activist who acts as a doctor.” He later issued subpoenas to doctors and health care facilities seeking the patient’s medical records.
Records and testimony have shown that the case was reported to state authorities as required by law. Her employer, Indiana University Health, also stated that she did not violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
Last year, When Mr. Rokita tried to revoke the doctor’s license, a judge argued that he had acted unlawfully with his allegations of misconduct and thereby violated his own practice’s confidentiality requirements. A judge said he caused “irreparable harm” to her reputation through his “unlawful violations” of confidentiality rules after discussing his investigation on national news and in the press.
The efforts of Mr. Rokita, Dr. Efforts to discipline Bernard largely fell through in May after the state’s licensing board confirmed that she had not failed to report child abuse and that she was not unfit to practice medicine.
And in July, the man who pleaded guilty to raping the 10-year-old girl was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after at least 25 years.
Well, in one 28-page federal lawsuitMr. Rokita takes aim at Indiana University Health, arguing that instead of “protecting the patient, the hospital chose to protect the doctor and itself.”
The hospital “exposed a systemic failure in the implementation and administration of HIPAA rules that compromises the privacy of all of its patients,” its complaint says.
“We are responsible every day to provide quality health care and protect the privacy of our patients,” Indiana University Health said in a statement. “We remain disappointed [that] The Indiana Attorney General’s Office insists on devoting the state’s limited resources to this matter. We will respond to the AG’s office directly on the filing.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Rokita is accused of violating three codes of conduct after baselessly labeling her as an “abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failure to report” and for “deliberately making public statements and/or directed others to make public statements.” about the investigation against Dr. Bernard.
“Our legal team was not involved in the recent charges and therefore cannot comment. We will monitor how the disciplinary committee process progresses and let the complaint speak for itself,” said a statement from Dr. Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney.
In a lengthy response, Mr. Rokita suggested that the committee was made up of “radicals” and was “”exterminating” non-compliant citizens through intimidation as well as tactics that can weaponize our respected institutions.”
In the year following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, More than a dozen states have effectively banned abortion in most or all cases.
Ohio voters will weigh in on an amendment that would do that create a state constitutional right to abortion this November.
After a years-long legal battle, Indiana’s latest anti-abortion law went into effect last month, banning most abortions at any point in pregnancy unless the woman’s life or health is at serious risk.
Abortions are permitted before 22 weeks of pregnancy if a “fatal fetal anomaly” is detected, or up to 12 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape or incest.