By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – The Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio is under investigation by the state attorney general’s office for false consumer complaints made by individuals who were never her patients, the doctor’s lawyers said Thursday.
Attorneys for Dr. Caitlin Bernard said in a statement to the media that a “nonsensical campaign” is being conducted by Indiana Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita to intimidate their client.
A spokesman for Rokita, Kelly Stevenson, declined to comment, saying his office is not discussing the details of his investigations.
Bernard made national headlines this month with reports that she had provided abortion services to an Ohio girl who had been raped and traveled to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy because of an Ohio law prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest.
The girl was three days past Ohio’s six-week limit, which came into effect hours after the June 24 blockbuster Supreme Court decision in the Mississippi case known as Dobbs v. Jackson, which ruled the Roe v. Wade 1973 opinion that legalized abortion nationwide.
Abortion rights activists and US President Joe Biden took advantage of the Ohio girl’s plight to discuss the real ramifications of Roe’s turnaround.
Abortion enemies had doubts about the truth of the story, which was first reported by the Indianapolis Star newspaper, until the man accused of raping the girl was arrested and charged in the case.
Since then, anti-abortion activists have tried to discredit Bernard.
Rokita this month said he was investigating whether she had complied with state laws requiring doctors to report termination of pregnancy and suspected cases of child abuse.
The Indianapolis Star got public records showing that she had done so. Bernard’s lawyers filed a 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 an investigation into ‘consumer complaint’ forms filed against her,” her lawyers said in a statement.
Information in the forms shows that the individuals named “did not interact with Dr. Bernard” and that five residents of other states were as far away as California.
“None of the complaints came from a ‘consumer’ who bought goods or services” from Bernard or even had direct contact with her, the lawyers said.
At least one was found to have a “significant criminal history,” she added.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Clarence Fernandez)