Disciplinary Action for Indiana Attorney General Over Remarks on Physician

by Ryan Lee
Indiana Attorney General Reprimand

The Attorney General of Indiana, Todd Rokita, has been formally censured for his public comments regarding a physician who performed an abortion on a young rape survivor. This reprimand was handed down in a recently released judicial opinion.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard came into the public eye following an interview with the Indianapolis Star on July 1, 2022, in which she revealed she had administered a medically induced abortion to a 10-year-old girl from Ohio. This case became particularly noteworthy after the reversal of Roe v. Wade and under the Ohio legislation which banned abortions past six weeks, whereas Indiana’s laws still permitted the procedure.

The Indiana Supreme Court’s disciplinary commission concluded that in a Fox News interview conducted in July 2022, Rokita, a staunch anti-abortion Republican, committed professional misconduct by making unfounded allegations against Bernard, who practices obstetrics and gynecology in Indianapolis.

The disciplinary commission’s findings were particularly critical of Rokita for labeling Bernard as an “abortion activist masquerading as a doctor” and wrongly alleging she had a record of neglecting to report abuse.

Rokita acknowledged wrongdoing concerning two professional conduct rules: making a public statement likely to be prejudicial to a proceeding, and which served no significant purpose besides casting aspersions on the doctor.

Subsequent to his admission, a fine of $250 was imposed, and he received a public censure. However, a separate allegation accusing Rokita of prematurely disclosing information about an ongoing investigation into Bernard was dismissed.

In a rebuttal to the disciplinary action, Rokita maintained his stance, asserting his remarks were based on facts and justified his description of Bernard as an outspoken proponent of abortion rights.

The repercussions for Bernard’s decision to go public about the abortion involved a rebuke from the state medical board for an alleged breach of privacy standards, though the board dismissed claims of her failing to report child abuse. Furthermore, Rokita has pursued legal action against Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, claiming the disclosure of the case infringed patient confidentiality. This case is yet to reach a conclusion.

In the aftermath of the controversy, Indiana passed new abortion restrictions, making it the first state to enact such legislation following the federal rollback of abortion rights.

While Rokita faced disciplinary measures, the decision was not without its detractors, with two justices deeming the punishment insufficient. Critics, including Planned Parenthood’s Rebecca Gibron, have voiced strong disapproval, suggesting the penalty fails to address the gravity of Rokita’s actions.

The case reached a grim resolution with the conviction of Gerson Fuentes, the perpetrator of the assault, who received a life sentence for the rape of the young girl.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Indiana Attorney General Reprimand

What was the nature of the professional misconduct by Indiana’s Attorney General?

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita was reprimanded for making potentially prejudicial public statements about Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim. His comments were determined to have violated professional conduct rules by unfairly characterizing the physician and had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.

Why did the Indiana Attorney General comment on Dr. Caitlin Bernard’s actions?

The Attorney General commented on Dr. Bernard’s actions in the context of a highly publicized abortion case, where she performed a legal abortion on a young rape survivor from Ohio. Rokita, known for his anti-abortion stance, criticized Bernard on a national news show, calling her an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”

What were the consequences for Todd Rokita following his comments?

Following his comments, Todd Rokita admitted to violating professional conduct rules and was issued a public reprimand and a fine of $250. However, an additional charge alleging he breached confidentiality by discussing an ongoing investigation was dismissed.

Did Dr. Caitlin Bernard face any repercussions for providing the abortion?

Dr. Caitlin Bernard faced a reprimand from Indiana’s medical licensing board for allegedly not adhering to privacy laws by speaking publicly about the case. The board, however, dismissed allegations that she failed to report suspected child abuse.

What legal actions did Todd Rokita take against Indiana University Health?

Todd Rokita filed a federal lawsuit against Indiana University Health, alleging that the hospital system violated patient privacy laws when Dr. Bernard publicly shared details of the young girl’s situation. The outcome of this lawsuit remains pending.

What was the outcome for the individual who raped the 10-year-old girl?

Gerson Fuentes, aged 28, confessed to the rape and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime.

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Jenny87 November 3, 2023 - 4:23 am

is it just me or is fining someone $250 kinda low for a case that got this much attention, doesn’t seem like justice is served

Mike_H November 3, 2023 - 2:41 pm

did anyone actually follow the rules here it looks like everyones just pointing fingers and no one’s actually listening to the other side

Tom Jeffries November 3, 2023 - 5:31 pm

So now we see what happens when politics gets involved in private matters like healthcare, doesn’t seem right at all

SandraT November 3, 2023 - 6:55 pm

kinda wild that a public figure would just say stuff without thinking of the consequences, really makes you wonder about the legal system…

GregorSamsa November 3, 2023 - 8:56 pm

not surprised this got national attention, the details are just heartbreaking, that poor girl.


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