UNITED STATES NEWS

Indiana attorney general reprimanded for comments on doctor who provided rape victim’s abortion

Nov 2, 2023, 12:34 PM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s attorney general violated professional conduct rules in statements he made about a doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio in the weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, according to a court opinion filed Thursday.

The case sparked national attention after Dr. Caitlin Bernard discussed providing the 10-year-old girl with a medication-induced abortion during a July 1, 2022, interview with the Indianapolis Star. At the time, Ohio law prohibited abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but the girl could still be provided a legal abortion in Indiana.

The Indiana Supreme Court’s disciplinary commission found Todd Rokita, a Republican who opposes abortion, “engaged in attorney misconduct” during an interview he gave on a Fox News show in July 2022 about Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist.

The opinion specifically faulted Rokita for describing Bernard on the show as an “abortion activist acting as a doctor — with a history of failing to report” instances of abuse.

The opinion said Rokita violated two rules of professional conduct by making an “extrajudicial statement that had a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding and had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden the physician.”

Rokita admitted to the two violations, and the commission dismissed a third charge, according to the opinion. The court issued a public reprimand and fined Rokita $250.

The initial complaint filed in September also alleged that Rokita violated confidentiality requirements by making statements about an investigation into Bernard prior to filing a complaint with the state’s Medical Licensing Board. It was not immediately clear if this is the allegation that was dropped.

Rokita denied violating confidentiality in a written statement responding to the court’s opinion.

In his statement, Rokita said he signed an affidavit to bring the proceedings to a close and to “save a lot of taxpayer money and distraction.” He also repeated his description of Bernard as an “abortion activist.”

“As I said at the time, my words are factual,” he said. “The IU Health physician who caused the international media spectacle at the expense of her patient’s privacy is by her own actions an outspoken abortion activist.”

It’s not clear whether the opinion chastising Rokita was limited to his claim that Bernard had a “history of failing to report” instances of abuse.

The Associated Press left a voicemail with Bernard’s attorney on Thursday.

Within weeks of Bernard’s July 2022 interview about providing the abortion, Indiana became the first state to approve abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court ended constitutional protections.

Bernard was reprimanded by Indiana’s medical licensing board in May, saying she didn’t abide by privacy laws by speaking publicly about the girl’s treatment. Hospital system officials argued against that decision. The medical board rejected allegations that Bernard failed to properly report suspected child abuse.

Rokita separately filed a federal lawsuit against her employer, Indiana University Health, in September, claiming the hospital system violated patient privacy laws when Bernard publicly shared the girl’s story. The lawsuit is still pending.

Gerson Fuentes, 28, who confessed to raping and impregnating the Ohio girl, was sentenced to life in prison in July.

United States News

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a “hard landing” on Sunday, May ...

Associated Press

Helicopter carrying Iran’s hard-line president apparently crashes in foggy, mountainous region

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister apparently crashed in mountainous Iran on Sunday.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Child is among 3 dead after Amtrak train hits a pickup truck in upstate New York

NEW YORK (AP) — A child was among the three victims killed when a passenger train hit a pickup truck, officials said. The northbound Amtrak train hit a Dodge truck Friday evening in North Tonawanda, New York, a small town along the Niagara River between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, police said. The victims included a […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

11 hurt after late-night gunfire breaks out in Savannah, Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Eleven people were treated for injuries after late night gunfire broke out downtown in the tourist-destination city of Savannah. Gunfire was reported shortly before midnight Saturday near Savannah’s popular Ellis Square, police said. It was not clear whether all the injuries stemmed from gunshots. Victims were treated at the scene and […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Power expected to be restored to most affected by deadly Houston storm

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston area residents affected by deadly storms last week that left at least seven dead were finally getting some good news as officials said they expected power to be restored by Sunday evening to a majority of the hundreds of thousands still in the dark and without air conditioning amid hot and […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

America’s first Black astronaut candidate finally goes to space 60 years later on Bezos rocket

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — America’s first Black astronaut candidate finally rocketed into space 60 years later, flying with Jeff Bezos’ rocket company on Sunday. Ed Dwight was an Air Force pilot when President John F. Kennedy championed him as a candidate for NASA’s early astronaut corps. But he wasn’t picked for the 1963 class. […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Airstrike kills 27 in central Gaza and fighting rages as Israel’s leaders are increasingly divided

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israeli airstrike killed 27 people in central Gaza, mostly women and children, and fighting with Hamas raged across the north on Sunday as Israel’s leaders aired divisions over who should govern Gaza after the war, now in its eighth month. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces criticism from the […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Indiana attorney general reprimanded for comments on doctor who provided rape victim’s abortion