Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist who conducted an abortion for an unnamed 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio has been fined $3,000 by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board on Thursday. Despite a vigorous lobby to have her license revoked, the board said it will not suspend or revoke the doctor’s license for talking about an abortion she performed for the girl, Fox News reports.
Bernard had spoken to reporters from The Indianapolis Star that she performed an abortion for the girl last summer to demonstrate how abortion laws affect people across the state. “I think that it’s incredibly important for people to understand the real-world impacts of the laws of this country about abortion,” Bernard said. “I think it’s important for people to know what patients will have to go through because of legislation that is being passed, and a hypothetical does not make that impact.”
After the news story went viral, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita went to the media in July and accused Bernard of failing to report the abortion to the authorities. Rokita alleged that the doctor failed to report the abortion to the police, the Department of Child Services, and to Indiana University Health which employed her. He said she also violated patient privacy laws.
Represented by attorneys John Hoover and Alice Morical, Bernard contended that she did not break any known patient privacy laws because she did not identify the girl by name or address or provide any information that could make anyone to identify her. Questioned by the medical licensing board, she said also reported the matter to her hospital as per reporting guidelines.
“I did not release any protected health information,” Bernard said. “I complied with all patient confidentiality and HIPAA laws to the best of my knowledge. I followed IU Health policy, which is to report any known or suspected child abuse to the designee, which is the IU Health social worker, and then the reporting is made from there.”
Paperwork revealed that the doctor reported the case to social worker Stephanie Cook, and Cook testified that a reporting was done. Bernard said she did not report the matter directly to the police because an investigation of the rape was already ongoing in Ohio and the rapist had been apprehended. She added that she reported to an IU Health social worker because they were the one who was supposed to go to the police and not her.
The medical board ruled that Bernard violated HIPAA and state privacy laws by speaking to a journalist about the girl’s abortion even if she didn’t identify her by name. The board however stated that she did not violate any reporting laws to her employer or the police. The board found her guilty in three areas and fined her $1,000 for each of the areas.
“We appreciate the Medial Licensing Board’s extraordinary time and consideration,” Rokita tweeted after the board’s ruling. “My team did a great job getting the Truth out. Caitlin Bernard was found liable for violating state and federal patient privacy laws on three separate counts.”