INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s attorney general has sued the state’s largest hospital system, claiming it violated patient privacy laws when a doctor publicly told a hospital’s story A girl from Ohio who traveled to Indiana for an abortion.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Indianapolis, was Attorney General Todd Rokita’s latest attempt to take disciplinary action against Dr. Caitlin Bernard to initiate. The doctor’s account of a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to Indiana to receive abortion drugs became a flashpoint in the abortion debate, days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade fell last summer.
Rokita, a Republican, is staunchly anti-abortion and Indiana was the first state to approve abortion restrictions after the court decision. The near-total ban on abortion recently came into effect after legal disputes.
“Neither the 10-year-old nor her mother gave the doctor permission to speak to the media about her case,” the lawsuit says. “Instead of protecting the patient, the hospital chose to protect the doctor and itself.”
Indiana University Health and IU Healthcare Associates were named in the lawsuit. It alleged that the hospital system violated HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and a state law by failing to protect patient information.
Indiana’s medical regulator reprimanded Bernard in May, saying she had failed to follow privacy laws by speaking publicly about the girl’s treatment. Rokita’s office’s move to suspend her medical license was not nearly enough.
Still, the panel’s decision drew widespread criticism from medical groups and others, who called it an attempt to intimidate doctors.
Hospital system officials have argued that Bernard did not violate privacy laws.
“We remain disappointed that the Indiana Attorney General’s Office continues to devote the state’s limited resources to this matter,” IU Health said in a statement. “We will respond to the AG’s office directly on the filing.”
In July, a 28-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for raping the child.