IN Brief

Doctors file for emergency order to block Attorney General Todd Rokita

By: - November 10, 2022 9:49 am

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who was at the center of controversy last summer over a 10-year rape victim from Ohio. (Photos from Attorney General’s Office and IU Health.)

Two doctors targeted by Attorney General Todd Rokita filed an emergency court order Wednesday to block his office from accessing patient’s medical records, a follow-up to an earlier complaint filed to initiate a lawsuit against Rokita.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard told the IndyStar she performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim who couldn’t access care in their home state of Ohio following that state’s abortion ban. In response, several conservative figures claimed the doctor was fabricating the story or, at the very least, hadn’t filed the proper paperwork.

A terminated pregnancy report released the next day documented the abortion care received by the girl and an arrest in Ohio soon followed.

But according to Bernard’s lawsuit, Rokita continues to pursue a “baseless investigation” into her office, expanding his inquires to Bernard’s medical partner Dr. Amy Caldwell. The filing claims that Rokita used complaints filed against her office after Bernard’s story went public to launch an investigation into her practice, even though none of the complainants had received care from Bernard and several didn’t live in Indiana. Several simply quoted news reports as the basis for the complaint.

Last week’s filing — and this week’s emergency court order — seek to stop Rokita from accessing the medical records of patients from Bernard and Caldwell’s office. Wednesday’s filing requests immediate attention and an expedited response.

In a statement, Bernard and Caldwell’s attorney Kathleen DeLaney highlighted the need for privacy with these medical records, since public disclosure could mean patients would be harassed for receiving abortion services in the past.

“Furthermore, should this investigation continue, it could create an environment where future patients will be unable to access legal and safe medical care without fear that complete strangers will read their medical records,” DeLaney said in a statement. “We hope the court will act swiftly, both to protect our clients and their patients, but to protect any person seeking medical care.  Patients must be able to share with their doctors all information necessary for treatment without fear that politicians will obtain their medical records for improper purposes.”

Following the news release about the court order, Rokita’s office released an unusually candid statement disparaging Bernard.

“Patient privacy is the foundation of medical ethics, and although the doctor’s newfound concern for her patients’ privacy is appreciated, albeit ironic, we will proceed to seek the truth no matter the attempts to push her narrative,” the office said.

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Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.