COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Indiana Attorney General’s investigation into a doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Columbus may prove to be fruitless, hospital records indicate.
After Dr. Caitlin Bernard told the Indianapolis Star she provided abortion services to the out-of-state 10-year-old girl, the story made national news and garnered the attention of the Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who pledged Thursday to investigate whether Bernard adhered to state law in reporting the abortion.
“If Dr. Bernard has failed to file the required reports on time, she has committed an offense, the consequences of which could include criminal prosecution and licensing repercussions,” Rokita wrote in a Wednesday letter to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Under Indiana law, physicians who perform an abortion on a child under the age of 16 are required to submit a terminated pregnancy report to both the Indiana Department of Health and the Department of Child Services within three days of the procedure.
Bernard performed the 10-year-old’s nonsurgical abortion in Indianapolis on Thursday, June 30, according to a terminated pregnancy report obtained from the Indiana Department of Health. She reported the abortion to both agencies two days later — within the three-day time frame as required by state law — on Saturday, July 2.
Kathleen DeLaney, an attorney for Bernard, said in a news release that the physician “took every appropriate and proper action” under state law and her training as a physician.
“She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer,” DeLaney said. “We are considering legal action against those who have smeared my client, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, and know that the facts will all come out in due time.”
It remains unclear whether Bernard immediately notified law enforcement of the 10-year-old’s reports of sexual abuse. In his letter to Gov. Holcomb, Rokita said physicians who encounter a victim of sexual assault “must report the assault to law enforcement immediately.”
The 10-year-old sought the abortion services, Bernard indicated on the report, because of abuse.
At the time of the abortion, the 10-year-old was six weeks pregnant, Bernard’s report states. Under Ohio law, abortions are banned once fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically around the six-week mark of pregnancy. Ohio law does permit abortion if the mother’s life is in danger, but it’s unknown how that might have applied in this case.
The victim’s alleged perpetrator, 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes, of Columbus, was charged with rape in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday and issued a $2 million bond. Fuentes reportedly confessed to the crime, according to a court affidavit.
The release of the terminated pregnancy report comes on the heels of several Ohio lawmakers — and Rokita — calling into question whether reports of the 10-year-old crossing state lines for an abortion were legitimate.
Rokita appeared on Fox News Wednesday where he referred to Bernard as an “abortion activist acting as a doctor,” adding that the physician has a history of failing to report abortions.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost appeared on the news outlet on Monday, July 11 to express doubt about the case. He said his office, which regularly communicates with state law enforcement, had not heard “a whisper” about the 10-year-old traveling to Indiana for the procedure.
Shortly after Fuentes’ arraignment Wednesday, Yost issued a news release in which he applauded Columbus police for taking action in the alleged rapist’s arrest.
“My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child,” he said. “I am grateful for the diligent work of the Columbus Police Department in securing a confession and getting a rapist off the street.”