OBGYN files tort claim notice against Indiana AG Todd Rokita in abortion case

Indiana Governor
Posted at 3:43 PM, Jul 19, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — An attorney representing Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indianapolis doctor who performed an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio, has filed a tort claim notice against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.

Bernard's lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney of DeLaney & DeLaney LLC, confirmed on Tuesday that the notice had been filed. It's the first step toward a possible defamation lawsuit against Rokita.

It comes after Bernard's lawyer filed a 'cease and desist' letter against Rokita after telling Fox News he would investigate whether she failed to follow proper reporting procedures.

Records showed Bernard properly filed the termination of pregnancy report after she performed the abortion.

The report, provided by DeLaney, states the abortion was performed on June 30. It also shows the abortion was reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services and was received by the Indiana Department of Health on July 2.

According to Indiana Code, doctors must submit the report within three days of an abortion procedure if the patient is under 14.

Later, IU Health, where Bernard practices, issued a statement saying a review found Bernard complies with patient privacy laws. Rokita said his office would still investigate Bernard regardless.

The notice reads in part:

"Mr. Rokita’s false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession constitute defamation per se. The statements have been and continue to be published by or on behalf of Mr. Rokita and the Office of the Attorney General. To the extent that these statements exceed the general scope of Mr. Rokita’s authority as Indiana’s Attorney General, the statement forms the basis of an actionable defamation claim against Mr. Rokita individually.”

It continues, "Mr. Rokita’s statements that Dr. Bernard was an 'abortion activist acting as a doctor' with a 'history of failing to report' were false. Mr. Rokita either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements. Mr. Rokita recklessly and/or negligently failed to ascertain whether the statements about Dr. Bernard’s licensure were true or false before making them.

"Statements that Dr. Bernard has a 'history of failing to report,' which Mr. Rokita indicated would constitute a crime, made in the absence of reasonable investigation, serve no legitimate law enforcement purpose. Given the current political atmosphere in the United States, Mr. Rokita’s comments were intended to heighten public condemnation of Dr. Bernard, who legally provided legitimate medical care."

The full document can be read here.

AG Rokita's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.