Abortion doctor sues Indiana AG over bids to access records

Nov 3, 2022, 12:19 PM | Updated: 1:03 pm

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio is suing Indiana’s attorney general, seeking to block him from using allegedly “frivolous” consumer complaints to issue subpoenas seeking patients’ confidential medical records.

The lawsuit targeting Attorney General Todd Rokita was filed Thursday in Marion County on behalf of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, her medical partner, Dr. Amy Caldwell, and their patients.

It alleges that Rokita has issued subpoenas seeking the medical records of patients based on complaints from people who have never been a patient of either Bernard or Caldwell and “who lack any personal knowledge of the alleged circumstances giving rise to the complaints.”

The suit contends that Rokita has “completely ignored” a state requirement that his office first determine that consumer complaints have “merit” before he can investigate physicians and other licensed professionals and that his conduct “violates numerous Indiana statutes.”

“The Attorney General has wholly ignored the General Assembly’s fine-tuned structure for handling consumer complaints regarding licensed professionals and has engaged in precisely the type of overbearing, harassing conduct that the General Assembly sought to prohibit,” the suit states.

Bernard received widespread attention after she gave an interview to The Indianapolis Star about the 10-year-old girl, who traveled to Indiana from Ohio for the abortion after a so-called fetal heartbeat law took effect in Ohio in June after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Such laws ban abortions from the time a fetus’ cardiac activity can be detected, which is typically around the sixth week of pregnancy.

A 27-year-old man was charged in Columbus, Ohio, with raping the girl, confirming the existence of a case that was initially met with skepticism by some news outlets and Republican politicians.

After the news of the 10-year-old’s abortion broke, Rokita told Fox News he would investigate whether Bernard violated child abuse notification or abortion reporting laws. He also said his office would look into whether anything Bernard said to The Indianapolis Star about the girl’s case violated federal medical privacy laws. Rokita offered no specific allegations of wrongdoing.

Records obtained by The Associated Press and local news outlets show Bernard submitted her report about the girl’s abortion July 2, which is within Indiana’s required three-day reporting period for an abortion performed on a girl younger than 16.

Bernard’s lawsuit asks a court to issue temporary and permanent injunctions to block Rokita from starting or conducting an investigation of a consumer complaint “without first making an initial determination that the consumer complaint has merit.”

It also seeks such injunctions to block him from issuing subpoenas related to an investigation based on a consumer complaint “without first making a valid and proper determination that the consumer complaint has merit,” and to prevent Rokita from “violating confidentiality provisions imposed by law.”

The suit names as defendants Rokita and Scott Barnhart, the chief counsel of the state attorney general’s office and also director of its office of consumer protection.

It alleges that the “improper conduct” by Rokita and Barnhart “threatens patients seeking legal abortions that their most personal and private medical records and health care decisions could be exposed as part of a meritless investigation.”

Rokita’s press secretary, Kelly Stevenson, said Thursday in response to a request for comment on the lawsuit that the attorney general’s office investigates “thousands of potential licensing, privacy, and other violations a year.”

“A majority of the complaints we receive are, in fact, from nonpatients. Any investigations that arise as a result of potential violations are handled in a uniform manner and narrowly focused,” she added in a statement.

Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, signaled in a July court filing that she planned to sue Rokita. That “tort claim notice” was filed just days after DeLaney sent a cease and desist letter asking Rokita to stop spreading false or misleading information about Bernard.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Stowaways found on a ship’s rudder in Spain’s Canary Islands

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it has rescued three stowaways traveling on a ship’s rudder in the Canary Islands after the vessel sailed there from Nigeria. The men, found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port, appeared to have symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and were transferred […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Mike Moscrop, left, from Orange County, Calif., poses with Amir Sieidoust, an Iranian suppor...
Associated Press

Iran-US World Cup clash rife with political tension

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The last World Cup clash between the United States and Iran 24 years ago is considered one of the most politically charged matches in soccer history. This time, the political overtones are just as strong and relations perhaps even more fraught as the U.S. and Iran face off once again on […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Qatar to supply liquefied natural gas to Germany from 2026

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar is to supply liquefied natural gas to Germany under a 15-year deal signed Tuesday as the European economic powerhouse scrambles to replace Russian gas supplies that have been cut during the ongoing war in Ukraine. Officials gave no dollar value for the deal, which would begin in 2026. Under the […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Pakistan army Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir attends a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 20...
Associated Press

Pakistan’s new army chief takes charge of military

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s new military chief took command of the country’s armed forces on Tuesday amid a deepening political rift between the government and the popular opposition leader, as well as a renewed threat from a key militant group that has been behind scores of deadly attacks over 15 years. The army has historically […]
3 hours ago
A boy kisses a dog while he charges his phone at the heating tent "Point of Invincibly" in Bucha, U...
Associated Press

Ukraine’s ‘Invincibility’ centers offer refuge, resilience

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Retired Ukrainian construction worker Borys Markovnikov is on the move again: This time, just a few steps from his home in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, to seek shelter and warmth at a “Point of Invincibility” — a government-built help station that serves food, drinks, warmth and ultimately, resilience, […]
3 hours ago
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during joint statements with Romanian President Kl...
Associated Press

NATO ministers meet to drum up more aid, arms for Ukraine

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts are gathering in Romania on Tuesday to drum up urgently needed support for Ukraine, including deliveries of electrical components for the war-torn country’s devastated power transmission network. Ukraine’s grid has been battered countrywide since early October by targeted Russian strikes, in […]
3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Abortion doctor sues Indiana AG over bids to access records