The doctor at the center of a story about a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to travel to Indiana in order to get an abortion has sent the Indiana state attorney general a cease-and-desist letter, for remarks that the doctor's lawyer is calling defamatory. "Please immediately cease and desist making any false or misleading statements" about Dr. Caitlin Bernard, reads the letter from attorney Kathleen DeLaney to AG Todd Rokita, dated Friday. "Your false and defamatory statements to Fox News on July 13, 2022, cast Dr. Bernard in a false light and allege misconduct in her profession." In that referenced Wednesday TV interview, Rokita claimed that Bernard had intentionally "failed to report" the procedure as required by law, and that his office was "gathering the evidence" to prove just that.
Rokita also insinuated Bernard's medical license was at risk. NBC News obtained documents from the Indiana Department of Health showing Bernard had indeed reported the terminated pregnancy within the mandated time frame, while the Washington Post, upon a review of physician licensure records, found that Bernard's licensure is intact and doesn't show any disciplinary action against her. "We are especially concerned that, given the controversial political context of [Rokita's] statements, such inflammatory accusations have the potential to incite harassment or violence from the public," DeLaney's letter continued.
And that's something Bernard is apparently no stranger to: The Guardian reports that the doctor testified last year on how she'd stopped providing abortions at a South Bend clinic after Planned Parenthood, on word from the FBI, informed her a kidnapping threat had been made against her daughter. DeLaney says in a statement that Bernard is "considering legal action" against Rokita, who so far seems determined to double down on his probe. A spokesperson for the attorney general says of the letter, per NBC: "Like any correspondence, it will be reviewed if and when it arrives. Regardless, no false or misleading statements have been made." (Read more abortion stories.)