INDIANAPOLIS – Doctors across the country helped raised about $180,000 for an Indiana University obstetrician-gynecologist pay for security and legal expenses after she became a focal point in the abortion debate over providing the procedure to a 10-year-old rape victim.
The saga unfolded earlier this month after Dr. Caitlin Bernard told the Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, that she treated the 10-year-old girl from Ohio. After Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, Ohio’s trigger law went into effect, banning abortions after six weeks.
The girl’s story went viral, appearing in news outlets across the country and becoming a flash point in the abortion debate. It became a talking point for abortion-rights supporters, including President Joe Biden. Some opponents and news outlets criticized the story as unproven. But criminal charges and court testimony earlier this week confirmed the disturbing story.
Doctors rally to support Bernard from ‘intense scrutiny’
On Friday, supporters launched fundraisers to help Bernard with security fees and legal costs she has assumed while facing public scrutiny.
A team of OB-GYN providers from across the country launched a GoFundMe that had raised nearly $180,000 from about 2,400 donors as of Saturday evening.
“We are Ob/Gyn providers & abortion providers from across the country who want to thank our colleague, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, for doing a courageous thing and helping provide compassionate healthcare to a child in her time of need,” the GoFundMe page says. “Many of us have experienced this in our line of work, and the ability to rise to the call despite tragedy like this is truly commendable.”
Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky announced Friday it would also provide Bernard with security services and assistance with legal fees.
“We stand in solidarity with Dr. Bernard and all providers who continue to deliver compassionate, essential care to patients, even in the face of attacks from anti-abortion extremists,” CEO Rebecca Gibron wrote in a statement.
Planned Parenthood shared an abortion provider fund, which the organization says is where donors can offer financial support for abortion providers like Bernard who will have legal fees and other costs.
Bernard tweeted her thanks Friday evening for the “outpouring of courageous support.”
“It has been a difficult week, but my colleagues and I will continue to provide healthcare ethically, lovingly, and bravely each and every day,” she wrote.
“And thank you to the journalists who have worked tirelessly and diligently to inform the public about this important story and the truth,” she added. “I hope to be able to share my story soon.”
Indiana AG says he’s ‘gathering the evidence’ on Bernard
As news of Bernard’s account spread, it became a target for conservative Fox News hosts, as well as the attorneys general of Ohio and Indiana, who went on the television network to question the validity of Bernard’s story.
Since then, an Ohio man has since been charged in the rape of the 10-year-old girl.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita also questioned whether Bernard had violated Indiana law by failing to report the abortion and that the child had been abused. Documents obtained by IndyStar show that Bernard did report the procedure and the abuse on time.
Rokita told Fox News on Wednesday that his office was “gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure.”
He added: “If she failed to report it in Indiana, it’s a crime for — to not report, to intentionally not report.”
An attorney for Bernard sent a cease-and-desist letter to Rokita Friday, citing the claims he made about her in his Fox News appearance.
“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,” Kathleen DeLaney, the attorney representing Bernard, wrote in the letter to Rokita.
A spokesperson for Rokita’s office wrote in an email that the letter will be reviewed when it arrives but “no false or misleading statements have been made.”