Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana doctor who provided abortion care to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has sued Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) over what she says was his “frivolous” investigation into her and her treatment of the girl.
According to the lawsuit, Rokita overstepped his authority when he issued subpoenas for medical records based on alleged complaints about Bernard, despite the fact that the complainants were not her patients.
“The Attorney General’s and Director’s improper conduct dissuades patients who need emergency abortions from seeking care,” the lawsuit says. “It also 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.”
Although Rokita’s comments targeted Bernard, the complaint says that without court intervention, the livelihoods and privacy of all Indiana residents are at risk.
“Defendants’ current targets are physicians who provide medical care, including abortion services permitted under Indiana law. But there is no reason to believe Defendants will stop there,” the complaint says. “All licensed professionals face the exact same dangers as Plaintiffs. Accordingly, only judicial relief that enforces the existing statutory scheme can prevent the unlawful expansion of the Defendants’ investigatory authority over regulated professionals and ensure that Indiana’s licensed physicians can practice medicine and prosper in the free market without the fear of unchecked prosecutorial oversight.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring Rokita “from using frivolous consumer complaints as the basis for issuing subpoenas seeking confidential and sensitive medical records to continue his baseless investigation into physicians who provide abortion care,” Bernard’s lawyers said in a press release.
The lawsuit includes Bernard’s medical partner, Amy Caldwell, as a plaintiff.
Rokita was among the loudest voices criticizing Bernard for her treatment of the Ohio girl, who sought medical care in Indiana in June due to Ohio’s restrictive abortion laws.
“Since then, Rokita has continuously made false and misleading statements about the facts of the case to local and national news sources, even after it was confirmed by public records requests that Dr. Bernard complied with all applicable reporting laws,” Bernard’s lawyers said in the press release. “Through this lawsuit, Dr. Bernard and Dr. Caldwell, along with their patients, seek to stop Rokita from infringing upon patient-doctor confidentiality and prevent future unchecked oversteps by the Attorney General.”
A spokesperson for Rokita issued a brief statement on Thursday and indicated that more details would be provided in court filings.
“By statutory obligation, we investigate thousands of potential licensing, privacy, and other violations a year,” Kelly Stevenson, Rokita’s press secretary, said in a statement. “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. We will discuss this particular matter further through the judicial filings we make.”
The suspect in the rape case, Gerson Fuentes, has not yet gone to trial.
You can read the complaint here.
This is a developing story.
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