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Indiana Dr. Caitlin Bernard reported 10-year-old Ohio girl's abortion, records show

Indianapolis Star 1/24/2023 Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star
Dr. Caitlin Bernard © Jenna Watson/IndyStar Dr. Caitlin Bernard

The Indiana physician who provided abortion services to a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped disclosed the abortion in a form filed with the Indiana Department of Health and the Department of Child Services, according to documents obtained by IndyStar through a public records request. 

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and some news outlets have called into question whether Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indianapolis OB-GYN who performed the procedure, properly reported the disturbing case, which has become a flashpoint in the national debate over abortion.

An attorney for Bernard said the doctor followed the law and made the appropriate disclosures. She said Bernard is considering legal action against those who have "smeared" her.

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Rokita told Fox News on Wednesday that his office was investigating whether Bernard had failed to report the abortion and sexual abuse as required by Indiana law. His comments came one day after Ohio police arrested a 27-year-old man who they say admitted to raping the child.

“We're gathering the evidence as we speak, and we're going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure,” Rokita said. “If she failed to report it in Indiana, it's a crime for — to not report, to intentionally not report.”

Despite the newly disclosed form, Rokita said Thursday he plans to forge ahead with his investigation.

“As we stated, we are gathering evidence from multiple sources and agencies related to these allegations," he said in an emailed statement. "Our legal review of it remains open.”

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The story of the young girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion was first revealed by Bernard in an IndyStar story published earlier this month. The story went viral and quickly became a talking point for abortion rights supporters, including President Joe Biden. Abortion opponents and some news outlets, however, questioned the veracity of the story.

The announcement of criminal charges on Tuesday shifted the focus of abortion opponents away from questioning the story and onto whether or not Bernard had made the proper disclosures.

Indiana law requires health care providers to report abortions they perform to the Indiana Department of Health, including whether the patient indicated they were seeking an abortion as a result of being abused, coerced, harassed or trafficked. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor.

Bernard filed the required abortion disclosure, known as a "terminated pregnancy" form, on July 2, two days after she performed the girl's abortion, according to a copy of the form IndyStar received Thursday from the state health department. State law requires the forms to be filed within three days for patients under age 16.

The form shows Bernard indicated the girl was seeking an abortion as a result of being abused.

Kathleen Delaney, an attorney for Bernard, said in a statement that her client "took every appropriate and proper action in accordance with the law and both her medical and ethical training as a physician."

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"She followed all relevant policies, procedures, and regulations in this case, just as she does every day to provide the best possible care for her patients," Delaney said. "She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer. We are considering legal action against those who have smeared my client, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, and know that the facts will all come out in due time.”

Columbus, Ohio, police said they were made aware of the girl's rape on June 22 through a referral by Franklin County Children Services that was made by her mother. Bernard has said she was contacted about the abortion five days later on June 27.

The abortion took place on June 30, just six days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The high court's decision allowed an Ohio law to go into effect restricting abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is typically around 6 weeks.

The form Bernard filed with the state shows the girl was 6 weeks pregnant at the time of her abortion.

The form indicates the doctor did not know the age of the "father." In such cases, doctors are required to enter an "approximate age," according to a person familiar with the electronic filing system. Bernard entered "17."

IndyStar obtained copies of all pregnancy termination forms submitted to the state health department from June 24, the day of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, to July 11, 2022. The 10-year-old victim is among seven patients younger than 18 who received abortion care in Indiana during the time period. She's also the youngest to receive care, and the only juvenile whose abortion was listed as the result of abuse, according to the documents.

All told, Indiana doctors reported performing 144 abortions in the time period. That doesn't necessarily capture all of the abortions performed during that time period, because the state gives doctors 30 days to submit the forms when the patient is 16 or older.


June 22: Police in Columbus, Ohio, are made aware of the girl's rape through a referral by Franklin County Children Services that was made by her mother, according to police.

June 24: U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. An Ohio law restricting abortions when fetal cardiac activity is detectable goes into effect.

June 27: Bernard receives call from a child abuse doctor in Ohio seeking an abortion for a 10-year-old who had been raped, according to what Bernard previously told IndyStar.

June 30: Abortion is performed.

July 2: Bernard files the required "terminated pregnancy form" with the Indiana Department of Health and the Department of Children Services.

IndyStar reporters Ryan Martin and Kaitlin Lange contributed to this story.

Contact IndyStar reporter Tony Cook at 317-444-6081 or Follow him on Twitter: @IndyStarTony.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana Dr. Caitlin Bernard reported 10-year-old Ohio girl's abortion, records show

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