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Indy abortion doctor sends 'cease & desist' to Indiana AG over 'inflammatory accusations'

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Posted at 3:47 PM, Jul 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-16 16:47:19-04

INDIANAPOLIS —The attorney for an Indianapolis doctor who performed an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim have filed a 'cease and desist' letter against Indiana's Attorney General Todd Rokita.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard's lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney of DeLaney & DeLaney LLC, provided a copy of the letter which was sent to Rokita's office on Friday.

“Please cease and desist from making false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession, which constitute defamation per se," the letter provided with the official cease & desist request reads. "Moreover, to the extent that any statement you make exceeds the general scope of your authority as Indiana’s Attorney General, such a statement forms the basis of an actionable defamation claim.”

Friday afternoon, Bernard's attorneys provided a copy of the full cease and desist letter that was sent to Rokita's office.

READ | Docs show Indy doctor properly reported 10-year-old rape victim's abortion

Bernard's story garnered national attention after a local newspaper connected her to a10-year-old victim who allegedly traveled from Ohio to Indiana to have an abortion after being raped.

Rokita first appeared on Fox News Wednesday evening, calling out Bernard and vowing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the abortion and whether or not she had followed proper reporting procedures. On Thursday, Rokita issued a statement following up those claims.

“Aside from the horror caused here by illegal immigration, we are investigating this situation and are waiting for the relevant documents to prove if the abortion and/or the abuse were reported, as Dr. Caitlin Bernard had requirements to do both under Indiana law," his statement read.

Shortly after his statement was made public, Bernard's attorney provided WRTV with the legal documents showing that she had properly reported the abortion within the legally required time frame. WRTV also obtained the same records from DCS following an open records request.

The report also shows that the abortion was reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services and received by the Indiana Department of Health on July 2. According to Indiana Code, doctors are required to submit the report within three days after the abortion if the patient is under 14.

After the records were publicly shared, Rokita's office issued a brief statement to WRTV Friday morning saying their legal review "remains open" as they continue to gather "evidence."

“As we stated, we are gathering evidence from multiple sources and agencies related to these allegations. Our legal review of it remains open."

"Even after the release of the TPR through public record requests, confirming that Dr. Bernard fully complied with all applicable reporting laws, your subsequent statements to local and national news sources on July 14, 2022, further cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and mislead consumers and patients," the cease and desist letter to Rokita, which is dated July 15, reads. "We are especially concerned that, given the controversial political context of the statements, such inflammatory accusations have the potential to incite harassment or violence from the public which could prevent Dr. Bernard, an Indiana licensed physician, from providing care to her patents safely."

Read the full cease and desist letter below.

Dear General Rokita:

Our office represents Dr. Caitlin Bernard. Please immediately cease and desist making any false or misleading statements about Dr. Bernard. Your false and defamatory statements to Fox News on July 13, 2022, cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and allege misconduct in her profession. Even after the release of the TPR through public record requests, confirming that Dr. Bernard fully complied with all applicable reporting laws, your subsequent statements to local and national news sources on July 14, 2022, further cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and mislead consumers and patients. We are especially concerned that, given the controversial political context of the statements, such inflammatory accusations have the potential to incite harassment or violence from the public which could prevent Dr. Bernard, an Indiana licensed physician, from providing care to her patents safely.

Please cease and desist from making false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession, which constitute defamation per se. Moreover, to the extent that any statement you make exceeds the general scope of your authority as Indiana’s Attorney General, such a statement forms the basis of an actionable defamation claim.

This correspondence is not intended as a full recitation of the facts or a complete review of applicable law. Nothing contained in or omitted from this correspondence is or shall be deemed to be a limitation, restriction, or waiver of any of Dr. Bernard’s rights or remedies, either at law or in equity, in connection with any of the matters raised herein, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,
Kathleen A. DeLaney

Friday evening, Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky CEO Rebecca Gibron released the following statement in support of Dr. Bernard.

“This horrifying situation makes it clear that anti-abortion lawmakers in Indiana will stop at nothing to attack abortion, including actively putting people’s health and lives at risk. These lawmakers are using a 10-year-old’s tragedy as an excuse to intimidate abortion providers and scare them out of providing legal, safe health care. Their cruelty knows no limits.

“But we won’t be intimidated. We stand in solidarity with Dr. Bernard and all providers who continue to deliver compassionate, essential care to patients, even in the face of attacks from anti-abortion extremists. Dr. Bernard has our full support, and we are proud to stand by her in this moment.

“Every person, in every circumstance, deserves access to health care when and where they need it. I want all patients to know that our Planned Parenthood health centers in Indiana are open, and we welcome patients from every state. We are here to help you.”
Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky CEO Rebecca Gibron:

Dr. Diana Contreras, chief health care officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, also released a statement Friday. The statement was obtained by ABC News.

“For years, abortion providers and advocates alike have asserted that the overturning of Roe v. Wade would not only upend our nation’s health care and public health systems, but that it would have far-ranging, intolerable consequences for providers and patients alike.
“As providers, it is our ethical and professional commitment to provide compassionate, high-quality health care to every patient who comes to us, period. Instead, we are now in an environment where patient care is being dictated by cruel, anti-abortion policies aimed at eliminating abortion care altogether, putting people’s lives — children’s lives — at risk. No medical provider should be harassed, intimidated, or criminalized for doing their job. It is unconscionable and unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
“Let’s be clear: There is no situation in which a person should be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will. We know the physical, mental, and financial harm that being denied an abortion can cause. We also know that young people, people with low incomes, and those from Black, Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and other communities historically targeted by racism, bias, and discrimination suffer disproportionately from abortion bans and restrictions.”

Dr. Diana Contreras