Indiana doctor who treated 10-year old investigated over fake claims, lawyers say

·2 min read

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - The Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim is being investigated by the state attorney general for bogus consumer complaints by individuals who were never her patients, the physician's lawyers said on Thursday.

Attorneys for Dr. Caitlin Bernard said in a statement to the media that a "nonsensical campaign" is being waged by Indiana's Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, designed to intimidate their client.

A Rokita spokesperson, Kelly Stevenson, declined comment, saying his office does not discuss the details of its investigations.

Bernard made national headlines this month in reports that she had provided abortion services to an Ohio girl who was raped and traveled to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy because of an Ohio law banning abortions at six weeks of gestation, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The girl was three days past Ohio's six-week limit, which took effect hours after the Supreme Court's blockbuster June 24 decision in the Mississippi case known as Dobbs v. Jackson, which struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion that legalized abortion nationwide.

Abortion rights activists, and U.S. President Joe Biden, seized on the Ohio girl's plight to discuss the real-life consequences of Roe's reversal.

Abortion foes raised doubts about the veracity of the story, first reported by the Indianapolis Star newspaper, until the man accused of raping the girl was arrested and charged in the case.

Anti-abortion activists have since sought to discredit Bernard.

Rokita said this month he was investigating whether she had abided by state laws requiring doctors to report the termination of a pregnancy and suspected cases of child abuse.

The Indianapolis Star obtained public records showing she had. Bernard's attorneys filed notice on July 19 of their intention to sue Rokita for defamation.

On Tuesday the attorney general's office sent six letters to Bernard "initiating investigations of 'consumer complaint' forms" lodged against her, her attorneys said in a statement.

Information in the forms shows the individuals named "had no interaction with Dr. Bernard" and that five were residents other states as far away as California.

"None of the complaints came from a 'consumer' who purchased any good or services" from Bernard or even had any direct communication with her, the lawyers said.

At least one was found to have a "significant criminal history," they added.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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