INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis obstetrician and gynecologist made her first public remarks on social media Wednesday night after performing an abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion.
A source confirmed to 13News Indiana University Health Dr. Caitlin Bernard performed the abortion on the 10-year-old girl.
"My heart breaks for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I am so sad that our country is failing them when they need us most. Doctors must be able to give people the medical care they need, when and where they need it," Bernard tweeted around 8 p.m.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita appeared on Fox News Wednesday night to criticize Bernard.
"Thanks for having me, but I shouldn't be here," Rokita said on "Jesse Watters Primetime." "First of all, this is an illegal immigration issue because likely of Biden's lawlessness at the border and everything going on down there. That's why Indiana, as a non-border state, has actually filed several independent lawsuits on that."
Rokita's push to investigate Bernard has ignited concern and frustration among Hoosier doctors.
"It makes me terribly uncomfortable," said Gabriel Bosslet, a pulmonary and critical care doctor in Indiana. "The attorney general is a powerful position. No doubt about it, and for the attorney general to go after someone for simply doing their job makes it really hard for us in the state who are tasked with bringing other physicians in here to practice with us."
Bosslet said he's frustrated and sad at Rokita's stance on this issue.
"I have to practice medicine in this state and practicing medicine is hard enough every day dealing with, sort of, life and death every day," said Bosslet. "Having to do it with the specter of the top legal official in the state with a microscope on you for simply doing your job makes it just much harder, so yeah, I'm sad."
Bosslet said doctors need elected leaders who will support them and not target them.
According to court records obtained by TEGNA affiliate WBNS, 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes has been charged with one count of rape involving a 10-year-old victim.
Court records state a report was generated on June 22 with the Columbus Division of Police for rape. On July 6, the victim identified Fuentes to authorities as the person who raped her.
Six days later, detectives served Fuentes with a search warrant for a saliva sample. He was taken to police headquarters for an interview where he confessed to raping the victim, according to documents.
Fuentes appeared in court Wednesday and was given a $2 million bond. He is currently in the Franklin County Jail in Ohio.
Court records don’t specify whether or how the suspect knew the girl. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case, and the police department did not respond to a request for additional details.
The Fox News program included a photo of Bernard throughout its coverage, with reporter Trace Gallagher claiming Bernard apparently leaked the girl's story to the "Indianapolis Star Tribune" — correctly known as the Indianapolis Star — during an abortion rights protest.
"We have the rape, and then, we have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report, so we're gathering the information, we're gathering the evidence as we speak, and we're gonna fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure," Rokita said on the Fox News program. "If she failed to report in Indiana, it's a crime to intentionally not report."
13News cannot confirm any instances of Bernard failing to report child abuse cases.
On Thursday, Rokita released the following statement:
"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. The failure to do so constitutes a crime in Indiana, and her behavior could also affect her licensure. Additionally, if a HIPAA violation did occur, that may affect next steps as well. I will not relent in the pursuit of the truth."
When asked if Fuentes was in the country legally, Ohio Det. Jeffrey Huhn said not to his knowledge. He added there has been some confusion as to Fuentes' real name because authorities have no legal documents. A source connected to the investigation told WBNS that Fuentes is not in the country lawfully.
Huhn said that the victim underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis on June 30.
After the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Ohio activated the state's Heartbeat Law, which bans most abortions around six weeks or when the first fetal heartbeat is detected.
During an appearance on Fox News, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the story was being used as a political weapon and the victim could have had an abortion in Ohio.
13News spoke with Bernard at a pro-choice rally at the Indiana Statehouse July 6.
"Again, this is not a political issue. Abortion care is health care, and we need to keep it in that arena," said Bernard, who helped organize a pro-choice rally for medical professionals June 29.
Bernard recently met with lawmakers and said she plans on testifying during the special session July 25, when legislators are deciding the future of abortion in Indiana.
“It’s important to tell our patients' stories as much as we can,” Bernard said.
On July 6, Bernard didn't address published reports that named her as the doctor who provided care to the 10-year-old from Ohio. Bernard did confirm that doctors here are seeing more patients from states where abortion has already been banned or severely restricted.
"We've seen an influx in travel, particularly in states that have passed abortion bans like Ohio and Kentucky, and we will continue to do see them until we are not able to anymore," Bernard said.
A series of laws further restricting abortions in Indiana were reinstated Monday, July 11 and are now in effect, including:
- Requirements for surgical and chemical abortion clinics
- Requirements that women be advised, "human physical life begins at fertilization"
- Mandatory disclosure of fetal pain
In addition to the laws mentioned above, there were several other injunctions on Indiana abortion laws that have recently been lifted following the Supreme Court's landmark ruling.
Rokita said his office was successful in seeking injunctions to be lifted on the following Indiana abortion laws:
- Requirements that only physicians may provide medication abortions
- Second-trimester abortions may only be done in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers
- Women considering abortions must receive in-person counseling
- Women considering abortions must receive in-person examinations.
On July 8, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker upheld an Indiana law largely banning a second-trimester abortion procedure, allowing that law to take effect.
The law prohibits doctors from performing dilation and evacuation abortions unless to prevent serious health risk or save the life of the mother. A doctor violating the law could face a felony charge, punishable by up to six years in prison