The punishment for anti-abortion fact-checking is here.
The Indiana doctor who provided a necessary abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim has been reprimanded by the state medical board for discussing the case with the media.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an OB-GYN from Indiana, was the target of a right-wing disinformation campaign after she provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim and mentioned the case, without naming the patient, to counter the anti-abortion rhetoric that dominated the political landscape in the summer of 2022.
“The state medical board voted to issue Dr. Bernard a letter of reprimand and a $3,000 fine. But he decided against imposing harsher penalties, which could have included suspension or probation, deciding instead that Dr. Bernard was fit to resume his practice.
“Council also cleared her of other allegations that she failed to appropriately report the rape of the girl to authorities,” said the New York Times reported Friday, adding, “The ruling was the culmination of a year-long lawsuit against Dr. Bernard by state Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican who opposes abortion.”
The chair of the American Medical Association’s Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs pointed out, as quoted in The Times, that Dr Bernard had an “affirmative obligation to speak out” and that she is “one of two physicians of Indiana with expertise in complicated obstetrics”. cases like second trimester abortions.
Anti-abortion activist Rokita sued this doctor so fiercely that he was eventually found guilty of breaking the law. Breaches of professional ethics could be his specialty. To what end? What was the purpose here?
Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on June 24, 2022, a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio faced a public right-wing attack on her credibility and the medical necessity for her to have an abortion, with the old media offering fact checks that have proven to be woefully misinformed about abortion as a medical procedure and the harm pregnancy does to a young girl’s body.
At the time I was writing in these pages, “The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler… cast doubt on the story, saying there was only one source on record, the attending physician, whom he described as an ‘activist.’ Kessler called the story something that fueled the president’s “talking points.”
This fact-checking sparked what became a nationwide effort to discredit the rape victim and the doctor. He used the baseless Republican suggestion that a doctor would lie about a rape because the doctor had an agenda other than helping his patient as a given and was unaware that over 80% of rapes go unreported to the police. He also assumed that a 10-year-old could get pregnant without rape, which is actually not possible. All 10-year-old pregnant girls have been raped by someone.
Why was this rape never “verified”? As Republicans and the media ran with the idea that this rape didn’t happen and if it did happen it’s so rare that abortion isn’t necessary, it emerged that 52 young people under 15 had abortions in Ohio in 2020, one abortion needed per week due to rape.
Thirty-four percent of victims of sexual assault and rape are under the age of 12. Abortion is therefore necessary. There is simply no way around this fact. Finally, there was also an arrest in this specific case. The scorched media have started to band together and are now much more informed and responsible in their coverage of this topic.
But that was the abortion narrative just a year ago; it was a Republican-led discussion, until not once Roe was overthrown and the reality of abortion as a human right took hold of the sphere public with story after story of cases that reasonable people might see should be “exceptions” become too gruesome to ignore.
The Republicans, with great help from the then still misinformed press, were attacking Dr. Bernard on political grounds, with charges including claiming that she had failed to report the matter. She reported the case two days after the procedure, as required by the law of July 2, 2022.
For anyone still in doubt that the charges against this doctor were politically motivated, Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has opened an investigation into the doctor, saying she “failed to live up to her legal responsibilities and Hippocratic”.
Guess who was later convicted of breaking privacy laws for going on Fox News to undermine this doctor? That’s right. Attorney General Todd Rokita. Court ruling finds Rokita broke the law while appearing on Fox News in which he accused the Dr of being an “abortion activist acting as a doctor”. The judge found that Rokita’s comments “caused Bernard ‘irreparable harm’ to his reputation and professional standing.”
The lies about this rape victim, her doctor, and the need for the abortion continue unabated in anti-abortion circles a year later.
Here is the video of Laura Strietmann, an anti-abortionist who is still lying a year later about the events surrounding the young rape victim in order to make her position seem less harmful than it is. Ohio State Rep. Jessica E Miranda (D) hit back, pointing out how offensive it was to the family of the 10-year-old girl and 10-year-old who’s been through enough already and who saw an entire political party and the national media illuminate her rape. .
“It’s been reported. So let’s not continue to spread misinformation over and over again about the personal issues some families have faced in terms of the rape of a 10-year-old rape victim and child sexual abuse .
Laura Strietmann, head of Cincinnati Right to Life, on the 10-year-old girl who was raped and traveled to Indiana for an abortion:
“While a pregnancy might have been difficult on a 10-year-old body, a woman’s body is designed to carry life.”
OH State Rep. Miranda (R) closes it. pic.twitter.com/ZscOCUYapd
— Signal Heartland (@HeartlandSignal) April 19, 2023
What is the purpose of these lies and attacks? The purpose of these politically motivated accusations appears to be to silence this doctor about the medical necessity of the abortion. Abortion is a human right. Pregnancy is more dangerous than abortion, and young girls’ bodies cannot tolerate pregnancy.
Rokita politicized the case of a 10-year-old rape victim to advance her activist agenda against medical freedom for girls and women. He did this by smearing the doctor who provided the service and trying to silence her again and again. Today’s reprimand will have a chilling effect on other physicians who may consider speaking out on behalf of their patients.
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