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Doctor told the state she performed abortion on 10-year-old girl, document shows

Indiana Attorney General candidate Todd Rokita has called for an investigation into the Indiana obstetrician for providing abortion care to a 10-year-old rape victim.
Darron Cummings
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AP
Indiana Attorney General candidate Todd Rokita has called for an investigation into the Indiana obstetrician for providing abortion care to a 10-year-old rape victim.

Updated July 15, 2022 at 2:10 PM ET

A new document obtained by NPR confirms that an Indiana doctor reported to state officials that she had performed an abortion last month on a 10-year-old rape victim.

The release of the document comes after Indiana's attorney general said he would investigate the physician, claiming without providing evidence that she has a history of failing to report abortions as required under Indiana law.

In the document released by the Indiana Department of Health and reviewed by NPR, Dr. Caitlin Bernard says she provided a medication abortion to a 10-year-old girl at Indiana University Health Medical Center in Indianapolis on June 30. That procedure uses pills to induce an abortion and involves a two-drug protocol approved for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

According to the report, the abortion took place a few days after the Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, which overturned longstanding abortion-rights precedent and triggered abortion bans to take effect in multiple states.

The story drew widespread public attention after Bernard related the incident to the Indianapolis Star, saying the girl had to cross state lines because of Ohio's abortion ban. Prominent abortion rights opponents expressed skepticism – until this week, when a 27-year-old man was charged with the girl's rape in Franklin County, Ohio.

Indiana's Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, has called for an investigation into the doctor. On Fox News, he questioned whether Bernard had followed state reporting requirements.

Indiana University Health issued a statement Friday, saying Bernard had complied with applicable privacy laws.

"As part of IU Health's commitment to patient privacy and compliance with privacy laws, IU Health routinely initiates reviews, including the matters in the news concerning Dr. Caitlin Bernard," the statement said. "Pursuant to its policy, IU Health conducted an investigation with the full cooperation of Dr. Bernard and other IU Health team members. IU Health's investigation found Dr. Bernard in compliance with privacy laws.

The documents released by Indiana state health officials include reports of abortions performed by multiple providers across the state in recent weeks, including four by Dr. Bernard.

Her report, filed on July 2, noted that the 10-year-old girl's pregnancy occurred as a result of abuse, and estimates that the patient was six weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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