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Dr. Bernard reprimanded, fined for violating 3 counts of privacy laws

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UPDATE: An Indiana board has decided to reprimand an Indianapolis doctor after finding that she violated patient privacy laws by talking publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from neighboring Ohio. 

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INDIANAPOLIS - Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio, testified before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board Thursday following a complaint by Attorney General Todd Rokita.

Rokita argues Bernard violated patient privacy laws and failed to report the abuse of the child - allegations she and her attorneys deny.

During her testimony Thursday, Bernard maintained she did nothing wrong when she told The Indianapolis Star last summer that she provided abortion care to the 10-year-old.

"I did not release any protected health information," Dr. Bernard said. "I complied with all patient confidentiality and HIPAA laws to the best of my knowledge."

Shortly after the story was published, Rokita appeared on Fox News July 13, 2022, alleging misconduct by the doctor.

"We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report," Rokita said during the interview.

After consumer complaints were submitted - which Bernard's legal team called "bogus" - Rokita filed a complaint with the Medical Licensing Board.

He and his team argue Bernard violated the patient's privacy rights and didn't notify the state of the abuse as required.

"She failed to report the abuse to Indiana law enforcement and to Indiana DCS," said Cory Voight, co-director of complex litigation for the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

Last summer, we obtained the paperwork showing Dr. Bernard reported the abortion to the state July 2, two days after she saw the child. State law requires such reporting within three days.

During questioning by the AG's legal team Thursday, Bernard said the terminated pregnancy report informed the Indiana Department of Child Services of the abuse.

Bernard acknowledged that she didn't speak with law enforcement directly but said she followed her hospital's protocol, which requires her to inform an IU Health social worker.

"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," Dr. Bernard said.

The social worker, Stephanie Shook, testified she reported the rape in Ohio, the state where it occurred.

When questioned by the AG's legal team, Bernard said she shared the child's story with The Indianapolis Star to demonstrate how abortion restrictions affect patients.

"I think that it's incredibly important for people to understand the real-world impacts of the laws of this country," she said.

The Board found Bernard violated HIPAA and state privacy laws. It did not find a violation of reporting laws.

The Board will send letter of reprimand to Dr. Caitlin Bernard and fine her $1,000 per count for the three positive findings.

After the hearing, Rokita tweeted, "We appreciate the Medial Licensing Board's extraordinary time and consideration. 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."

Bernard's attorneys declined to speak with reporters after the hearing.

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