Indiana’s state medical licensing board decided late Thursday to reprimand the doctor who raised alarm bells around the country last year when she told a reporter that a 10-year-old rape victim had sought her out for care due to the extreme anti-abortion laws in the girl’s home state.
The board chose to fine Indianapolis OB-GYN Dr. Caitlin Bernard $3,000 and issue her a letter of reprimand.
But it declined to impose more severe penalties, and absolved her of accusations that she failed to properly report the patient’s rape to authorities, according to The New York Times.
The Indianapolis Star reported that two of the board’s seven members had donated thousands of dollars to Todd Rokita, the Republican Indiana attorney general pursuing the complaint against Bernard. All seven members were appointed by the state’s Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
During the hourslong hearing, lawyers for Bernard argued that the information she shared with the Indianapolis Star last year ― the patient’s age, gender and state of residence ― was not personally identifiable and thus did not violate patient privacy laws.
“I think it’s incredibly important for people to understand the real world impacts of the laws of this country about abortion or otherwise,” Bernard said Thursday, according to 19th News.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard is pictured in September 2022.
The Indianapolis Star’s July 1 story about the young girl’s abortion received instant viral attention, and President Joe Biden ended up citing it a week later when he spoke about the need to protect abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The newspaper reported that Bernard had received a call from an Ohio colleague just three days after the shock Supreme Court ruling, asking if Bernard could help a 10-year-old patient who was six weeks and three days pregnant.
In Ohio, abortion was banned after the six-week mark. But at the time, the procedure was still permitted under Indiana law, and Bernard agreed to help.
A man accused of raping the girl was arrested in mid-July.
While Bernard’s employer, Indiana University Health, issued a statement saying she did not violate any HIPAA laws, the state attorney general took issue with her conduct.
Rokita took it upon himself to pursue punishment for Bernard, even using taxpayer funds to bring in an expensive Washington law firm to assist the effort.
He applauded his team on Thursday night, tweeting approvingly that “the abortion doctor got the maximum civil fine for violating three counts of privacy laws and received a public reprimand to go into a national database.”
A representative for Bernard did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the board’s decision.