Abortion Doctor Prepares to Sue Indiana AG for Defamation

His office calls her claims 'baseless'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2022 1:31 AM CDT
Abortion Doctor Prepares to Sue Indiana AG for Defamation
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive healthcare provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.   (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

The Indiana doctor who has become the center of a firestorm after performing an abortion on a 10-year-old girl from neighboring Ohio will sue the state's attorney general for defamation over his comments about her. Dr. Caitlin Bernard's lawyer released a statement Tuesday saying the lawsuit against AG Todd Rokita is being prepared, the New York Times reports. Rokita claimed Bernard had "a history of failing to report" and that she would be investigated to determine whether she failed to report the 10-year-old's abortion. Threats against her and her family have followed, Politico reports.

News outlets have confirmed Bernard did indeed report before the legal deadline, the Washington Post reports, but Rokita said the probe would continue. He also cast doubt on the veracity of the story that the girl had been raped, but police eventually arrested a 27-year-old man in the alleged crime. Rokita specifically mentioned investigating Bernard's licensure, and in the statement, Bernard's lawyer says the state licensing registry clearly shows the doctor's license is "active with no disciplinary history." So Rokita "either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements," according to the tort claim notice sent Tuesday to Rokita, the first step in the process of suing for defamation.

A Rokita spokesperson says of the suit, "This is part of a divisive narrative and an attempt to distract from the important work of the office, including the duty to determine whether practitioners have violated the standards of practice in his or her profession, as well as federal and state laws." The rep also says Rokita and his office are "leaders in the pro-life movement." The state has 90 days to settle the claim, then a lawsuit can be filed. Separately, a complaint against Rokita was also filed by the former dean of the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, who has requested the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission investigate his conduct. If he is found to have acted improperly, he could be disbarred. (More Indiana stories.)

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