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Indiana attorney general sues hospital over 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion

Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, is suing the largest hospital system in the state, alleging the mishandling of a case involving a 10-year-old rape victim who got an abortion through one of its doctors – a case that made headlines across the country in the days after the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade.

In a lawsuit filed on Friday, Rokita alleged that Indiana University Health wrongly said that Dr Caitlin Bernard, who talked about the 10-year-old’s case to journalists, had not violated patient privacy laws. Indiana University Health had told media outlets that, after reviewing Bernard’s case, it had determined that she had been “in compliance with privacy laws”, according to the lawsuit. However, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board later found that Bernard had broken patient privacy laws. (The board also concluded that she was fit to practice medicine.)

“At IU Health, we hold ourselves accountable every day for providing quality healthcare and securing privacy for our patients,” Indiana University Health said in a statement to the Guardian. “We continue to be disappointed the Indiana Attorney General’s office persists in putting the state’s limited resources toward this matter.”

On Monday, just three days after Rokita filed the lawsuit, the Indiana supreme court disciplinary commission filed a complaint against Rokita. The commission alleges that Rokita’s comments to the media on the 10-year-old’s case amounted to misconduct. Specifically, the complaint cited an appearance on Fox News where Rokita called Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor – with a history of failure to report.”

That comment violated confidentiality restrictions, the Indiana supreme court disciplinary commission said. The commission asked the Indiana supreme court for Rokita to be “disciplined as warranted for professional misconduct”.

In a public statement, Rokita compared the complaint to cancel culture. In his legal response to the complaint, he also argued that confidentiality was not required in this particular case because, he said, Bernard had broken confidentiality rules first.

“I am seeking re-election,” Rokita said in the statement, “and in the meantime, I will keep working for the people of Indiana, like protecting our 2nd Amendment, publishing the Parents’ Bill of Rights, enforcing the rule of law, handling more than 1,000 appeals cases filed by criminals each year and securing nearly $1 billion for Hoosier taxpayers.”

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