INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – An Indiana board decided Thursday night to reprimand an Indianapolis doctor after finding that he violated patient privacy laws A neighbor from Ohio about speaking publicly about a 10-year-old rape victim.
A state medical licensing board has ruled that Dr. Caitlin Bernard violated privacy laws by telling a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment in a case that became a political flashpoint in the national abortion debate days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.
However, the board denied allegations by Indiana’s Republican attorney general that Bernard violated state law by failing to report child abuse to Indiana authorities. Board members decided to fine Bernard $3,000 for the violation, denying the attorney general’s request to suspend Bernard’s license.
Bernard all the time Defend his actionsAnd he told the board Thursday he was following Indiana Reporting requirements and the hospital’s policy of reporting child abuse to hospital social workers — and that the girl’s rape was already being investigated by Ohio authorities. Bernard’s attorneys also said he did not release any identifying information about the girl that would violate privacy laws.
The Indianapolis Star reported the girl’s case in a July 1 article that caused a national political uproar Weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Ohio enacted a law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Some news outlets and Republican politicians falsely suggested Bernard faked the story until the 27-year-old man Accused of rape in Columbus, Ohio. President Joe Biden at an event held at the White House He almost screamed with indignation on the case.
The board’s president, Dr. John Strobel, said he believed Bernard went too far in talking to a reporter about the girl’s abortion and that doctors should be careful about protecting patient confidentiality.
“I don’t think he expected it to go viral,” Strobel said of Bernard. “I don’t think he expected this attention to be directed at this patient.” it did. This happened.”
Bernard’s attorney, Alice Morical, told the board Thursday that the doctor reported child abuse to patients several times a year and that a hospital social worker had confirmed with Ohio child welfare officials that it was safe for the girl to go with her mother.
“Dr. “Bernard couldn’t handle the atypical and intense scrutiny that this story has received,” Morical said. “He didn’t expect politicians to say he made the story.”
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s complaint asked the licensing board to impose “appropriate disciplinary action” but did not specify the fine sought.
Amid a wave of attention over the girl’s case last summer, Rokita, who is staunchly opposed to abortion, told Fox News he would investigate Bernard’s actions, calling him an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”
Deputy Attorney General Corey Voight argued Thursday that the board should have corrected what he called a “gross violation” of patient privacy by failing to report Bernard’s rape to the Indiana Department of Child Services and police.
“There has never been a case like this before the board,” Voight said. “No doctor has ever been so brazen in pursuing his own agenda.”
Voight asked Bernard why he discussed the case of the girl in Ohio in interviews with a newspaper reporter and later with other media outlets, rather than using a hypothetical situation.
“I think it’s very important that people understand the real-world impact of the abortion laws in this country,” Bernard said. “I think it’s important for people to know what patients have to go through because of legislation that’s passed and not hypothetically have that impact.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Rokita’s office commented on its official Twitter account, with one post saying: “When Bernard spoke about the high priority of legislation and public speaking, he did so at the expense of his own patient. It shows where his priorities lie as an activist, not a doctor. “
Bernard challenged Voight, saying his choice to go public with the case led to allegations of misconduct.
“I think if Attorney General Todd Rokita hadn’t chosen this as his political stunt, we wouldn’t be here today,” Bernard said.
Attorneys for the attorney general’s office have repeatedly raised questions about whether Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, complies with the policy of reporting suspected child abuse to authorities in the state where the abuse occurred. Officials at IU Health, the state’s largest hospital system, testified that the Indiana Department of Children’s Services has never challenged the hospital’s policy.
Indiana’s board — attended by five doctors and one attorney appointed or reappointed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb — had wide discretion under state law, allowing it to issue letters of reprimand or suspend, revoke or condition a doctor’s license.
Ohio’s nearly banning abortion law was in effect for about two months before suit against him Playing. of Indiana The Republican-dominated Legislature approved a statewide abortion ban Weeks after the Ohio girl’s case drew attention, but abortions are still legal in the state pending an Indiana Supreme Court decision Decision on the constitutionality of the ban.
Bernard tried unsuccessfully to block Rokita’s investigation last fall, but an Indianapolis judge wrote that Rokita did “Clearly illegal violations” about state privacy laws with his public comments about an investigation into a doctor before filing a medical licensing complaint.
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