Health Management

Indiana Reprimands Doctor Who Provided Abortion to 10-Year-Old Rape Victim


An Indiana physician who offered an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim final yr violated her younger affected person’s privateness by discussing the case with a reporter, the state’s medical board dominated Thursday night time.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, catapulted into the nationwide highlight final yr after she offered an abortion for an Ohio woman quickly after the Supreme Courtroom determination to overturn Roe v. Wade, which left states free to severely prohibit or outlaw abortion.

The state’s medical board voted to difficulty Dr. Bernard a letter of reprimand and a effective of $3,000. However it determined in opposition to stiffer penalties, which might have included suspension or probation, as an alternative deciding that Dr. Bernard is match to return to her apply.

The board additionally cleared her of different allegations that she didn’t appropriately report the woman’s rape to authorities.

The choice was the fruits of a yearlong authorized pursuit of Dr. Bernard by the state’s legal professional basic, Todd Rokita, a Republican who opposes abortion.

The Ohio woman had traveled to Indiana for the process after her dwelling state enacted a ban on most abortions after six weeks of being pregnant. Dr. Bernard advised a reporter for the Indianapolis Star in regards to the case throughout an abortion rights rally. She didn’t title the affected person, however the case quickly became a flash point within the early, heated days of debate after the Supreme Courtroom ruling, catching the eye of President Biden and turning conservative consideration and ire towards Dr. Bernard.

“I don’t assume she supposed for this to go viral,” mentioned Dr. John Strobel, the president of the board, calling Dr. Bernard a “good physician.”

“However I do assume we as physicians should be extra cautious on this state of affairs,” he mentioned.

Mr. Rokita, who had filed the complaints in opposition to Dr. Bernard with the medical board, praised the end result.

“This case was about affected person privateness and the belief between the physician and the affected person that was damaged,” Mr. Rokita mentioned in an announcement late Thursday. “What if it was your youngster or your affected person or your sibling who was going by means of a delicate medical disaster, and the physician, who you thought was in your aspect, ran to the press for political causes?”

Dr. Bernard has criticized Mr. Rokita for turning the case right into a “political stunt.”

Through the listening to, which stretched for greater than 15 hours, ending simply earlier than midnight, Dr. Bernard mentioned that her personal feedback didn’t reveal the affected person’s protected well being info. Reasonably, Dr. Bernard mentioned, it was the fierce political battle that adopted. Some conservatives doubted her story and drove a requirement to substantiate it. Ultimately, the man accused of raping the girl appeared in court and was linked to her case.

Dr. Bernard, who has publicly advocated for abortion rights, mentioned she had an moral obligation to teach the general public about pressing issues of public well being, particularly questions on reproductive well being — her space of experience.

Final July, after Indiana scheduled a particular legislative session on abortion, Dr. Bernard was involved that lawmakers in her dwelling state would move strict restrictions on abortion entry just like the Ohio regulation that pressured her 10-year-old affected person to cross state traces.

Indiana handed laws banning most abortions, with slim exceptions for rape and incest. That regulation is on maintain pending a authorized problem. Abortion is at present authorized in Indiana as much as 22 weeks.

Dr. Bernard mentioned she wished to spotlight the potential penalties of legal guidelines limiting abortion entry, and “didn’t anticipate” how a lot the general public would deal with the Ohio woman’s case.

“I believe its extremely vital for folks to know the real-word impacts of the legal guidelines of this nation,” she mentioned.

Dr. Peter Schwartz, a Pennsylvania OB-GYN and chair of American Medical Affiliation’s Council on Moral and Judicial Affairs, supported Dr. Bernard’s determination to talk out in regards to the Ohio affected person.

Dr. Schwartz mentioned Dr. Bernard had an “affirmative obligation to talk out” about problems with reproductive well being, noting that she is certainly one of simply two medical doctors in Indiana with experience in difficult obstetric instances like second-trimester abortions.

Attorneys on either side of the listening to known as specialists on medical confidentiality to know if Dr. Bernard violated tips of the Well being Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act, generally known as HIPAA, which governs the protection of patient privacy.

Dr. Bernard’s employer, Indiana College Well being, discovered that she didn’t violate HIPAA guidelines as a result of the affected person was not identifiable based mostly on the data that Dr. Bernard had shared publicly.

“The trigger and impact that occurred right here was not: ‘Dr. Bernard’s story results in the affected person having her protected info shared,’” mentioned Alice Morical, the physician’s legal professional.

However members of the medical board, made up of six medical doctors and one legal professional — all appointed by the governor — determined that, taken collectively, the main points Dr. Bernard offered in regards to the affected person — together with her age, her rape, her dwelling state and her abortion — certified as figuring out info.

“Dr. Bernard is a talented and competent physician, and I might submit that she is strictly the physician that individuals would need their youngsters to see below these circumstances,” mentioned Ms. Morical.

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