Colleague defends doctor who treated 10-year-old rape victim

  • An Indiana OB-GYN has spoken publicly about the treatment of a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.
  • Dr. Caitlin Bernard has been attacked by media organizations and politicians who have said her story is false.
  • Colleagues have come to his defense but fear they will suffer the same fate if they speak out.

A doctor has come to the defense of a colleague who treated a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio after some media and politicians called her a liar.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, OB-GYN in Indiana, provided abortion care for the young patient, who traveled there from Ohio due to restrictions in her home state.

In Ohio, abortions are restricted after 6 weeks. The child was 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant, according to the Indianapolis Star.

After Bernard shared her story with the newspaper, she was attacked by the Wall Street Journal editorial board and politicians like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who tweeted the story was “wrong to begin with”. Fox News aired an image of Bernard, and a network host said the story was fabricated.

Even though Bernard’s story was corroborated by The Columbus Dispatch, which reported the rapist’s arrest, the Ohio attorney general said he plans to investigate.

Now, Bernard’s colleague, Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, is defending her in an essay in The New York Times.

Wilkinson said she was terrified she or one of her colleagues “might soon face what Dr. Bernard is going through” after providing care to their patients. According to Wilkinson, the attention has raised concerns for Bernard’s safety and local police are now involved.

She said that when talking about reproductive health care, doctors like to include patient stories to “humanize the often complex legal and medical concepts” for the audience. Wilkinson adds that Bernard’s story about the 10-year-old does that by providing an example of how abortion bans affect the most vulnerable.

In light of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, medical providers in states where abortion has been restricted find themselves in a difficult position. Referring to what happened to Bernard, Wilkinson writes, “My colleagues and I watched the whole thing in horror. We fear it will happen to us too.

While abortion is legal in Indiana, lawmakers are expected to impose tough rules, which could include an outright ban, in a special session of the legislature later this month.

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