The attorney for a doctor who provided abortion services to a 10-year-old rape victim sent Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita a cease-and-desist letter on Friday demanding that he stop making “false or misleading statements” about the doctor.
The letter comes after a Fox News interview on Wednesday where Rokita said he was investigating Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who made international headlines earlier this month when she told The Indianapolis Star that she treated a 10-year-old rape victim who couldn’t get an abortion in her home state of Ohio due to a “fetal heartbeat” law. The state law, which was enacted after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last month banned abortions around the sixth week of pregnancy. Bernard said the girl was just over six weeks pregnant.
Rokita said in the interview that he was ‘gathering the evidence’ against Bernard, ‘including reviewing her license’ and whether ‘she hadn’t reported’ the proceedings in Indiana because ‘it’s a crime. not to report, intentionally not to report”.
In her letter to Rokita, Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, said, “Please cease and desist from making false and misleading statements about Dr. Bernard’s alleged misconduct in his profession, which in itself constitutes defamation. Further, to the extent that any statement you make exceeds the general scope of your authority as Indiana Attorney General, such statement forms the basis of a suitable defamation claim. “
Rokita repeated several of his remarks to Fox News in a statement through his office on Thursday, when he further asked if Bernard violated health privacy laws by disclosing the existence of the case. the newspaper.
In a statement earlier Friday, Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, said it had “conducted an investigation with the full cooperation of Dr. Bernard and other members of the IU Health team” and “found Dr. Bernard in compliance with privacy laws”.
NBC News obtained a terminated pregnancy report from the Indiana Department of Health showing that Bernard reported the procedure in a timely manner. A review of state records by The Washington Post also found no issues with Bernard’s medical license.
In Friday’s letter, DeLaney said, “Your false and defamatory statements to Fox News on July 13, 2022, have cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and alleged misconduct in his profession. Even after the release of the TPR (terminated pregnancy report) through public record requests, confirming that Dr. Bernard has fully complied with all applicable reporting laws, your subsequent statements to news sources local and national authorities on July 14, 2022, further misrepresented Dr. Bernard and misled consumers and patients.
DeLaney also expressed concern that “given the controversial political context of the statements, such inflammatory accusations have the potential to incite harassment or violence from the public.”
A spokesperson for AG’s office, Kelly Stevenson, said of the letter: ‘Like all correspondence, it will be reviewed if and when it arrives. In any event, no false or misleading statements have been made.
Sarah Fitzpatrick and Marin Scott contributed.