If the ongoing investigation determines that the report was not filed or was not filed on time, the letter warns, Bernard could face “criminal prosecution and licensing consequences.”
Form copy However, data obtained by POLITICO shows that they were handed over to health departments and childcare services on July 2, i.e. two days after the abortion.
Bernard’s lawyer, Kathleen Delaney, released a statement on Thursday saying her client has not broken any laws and that they are considering whether to sue the attorney general over his allegations.
“My client, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, has taken all necessary and appropriate actions in accordance with the law and her medical and ethical training as a physician,” DeLaney said. “She followed all relevant policies, procedures and regulations on this occasion, as she does every day, to provide the best possible care for her patients. She did not break any laws, including patient privacy laws, and her employer did not punish her. We are considering legal action against those who denigrated my client.”
Rokita’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gov. Holcomb’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Indiana Department of Health told POLITICO that they are focusing on regulating healthcare facilities, not individual providers, and did not comment on Rokita’s letter.
Other health professionals in the state and progressive lawyers have told POLITICO that they do not believe Bernard has broken any laws and say Rokita’s actions are intended to intimidate health professionals and deter them from offering abortions, even in circumstances where it is permitted by law.
“Of course, this is tactical intimidation,” said Fabiola Carrión, director of reproductive and sexual health at the National Health Laws Program. “Abortions are currently legal in Indiana up to 22 weeks of gestation. And even if it wasn’t, it’s a life-threatening situation. A 10-year-old child with a still developing body is not capable of having a baby.”
“This will have a deterrent effect on providers who are not willing to take the risk of doing such an assessment themselves in the future,” she added. “Healthcare providers tend to be very risk averse. They have to pay big money for liability insurance. And now they are being targeted by people who know far less about complex medical situations than they do.”
Bernard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When POLITICO spoke to her in the weeks leading up to the overturning of the Supreme Court decision Rowe vs. Wadeshe spoke about her plans to continue serving patients in Indiana despite restrictions imposed by her state.
“It’s scary to think about what the next phase will look like,” she said in May. “But I took it upon myself to do this job, knowing full well that abortion could be criminalized. So I won’t give it up now for my own work safety. This care will continue to be needed.”
The new threat from Rokita comes from the fact that Indiana – one of a dwindling number of dark red states where abortion remains legal – is just days away from the start of a special legislative session in which lawmakers are to consider anti-abortion bills – with a single question. what exceptions, if any, will be allowed.
The actions of the attorney general, who is expected to one day run for governor or senator, could not only push lawmakers to consider more sweeping anti-abortion measures, but also have a chilling effect on other health care providers in the state.
“Why issue a threat until he has an idea of the full scope of the case? Why threaten a doctor’s license? Well, that’s very important to him,” said Andrew Downes, director of the Mike Downes Indiana Policy Center at Purdue University. “Rokita’s comments also put pressure on the legislature to go so far as to make abortion illegal in all cases.”
Rokita’s behavior on this occasion was also criticized by other state political leaders.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has the ability to collect information necessary before [he] is in the national news and speculating,” said Destiny Wells, a former Indiana Deputy Attorney General who is also the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State. “This interview was pure speculation when he had the opportunity to slow down, collect evidence, draw a conclusion, and then go to the news.”
Indiana lawmakers will hold a special session on July 25 to consider bills related to inflation as well as abortion, and most of them expect the vast majority of Republicans in the state to enact a total or near total ban on the procedure.
“Our lobbying efforts are primarily about trying to minimize the damage,” said Kathy McHugh, an OB/GYN in Indiana and a member of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “We want to convince legislators of the importance of including – at a minimum – exceptions for life and health, rape and incest. But we know that many members of the legislature would be happy to remove all of these exceptions, which means that we will not even be able to care for patients like a 10-year-old child.”
McHugh and other abortion providers in the state say they are working to build out-of-state networks to refer their patients to other locations and help them organize and pay for transportation.
When she spoke to POLITICO in May, Bernard was worried that many of her patients would not be able to travel out of state if Indiana outlawed the procedure.
“They have to pay for clinic care, take time from their children, take time from work – not to mention that transportation is becoming a huge problem due to rising gas prices,” she said. “We are already regularly seeing people continue with pregnancies they don’t want because they can’t handle it all. For a lot of people in Indiana, when I tell them to leave the state, I might as well tell them to go to the moon.”
Another sign that the state is trying to limit access to abortion afterCaviar, Gov. On Thursday, Holcomb asked the US Supreme Court to allow the mandatory parental notification law to go into effect. While this and some other restrictions on abortion in the state have previously been blocked by lower courts, in light of the fall Caviar.