Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, has taken legal action against Indiana University Health and IU Healthcare Associates, accusing them of violating state and federal laws. The lawsuit comes after one of the hospital system’s doctors, Dr. Caitlin Barnard, spoke out about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old girl who had traveled from Ohio, where abortion is largely illegal. Rokita claims that the hospital system unfairly punished Barnard for discussing the case with the media. The lawsuit seeks to protect patient privacy and calls for an update to hospital policies and compensation for damages.
Dr. Barnard had performed the abortion on the minor in June 2022, when abortion was legal in Indiana. Her case gained national attention after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leading to an investigation by Rokita. The attorney general, who opposes abortion, accuses Barnard of violating privacy laws and defamation. Barnard maintains that she followed all reporting requirements and did not disclose any identifying information about the minor. The Indiana Medical Licensing Board found that Barnard violated privacy laws but declined to suspend her medical license.
Indiana University Health continues to support Dr. Barnard and asserts that she did not violate privacy laws. The hospital system expressed disappointment in the attorney general’s lawsuit, stating that it diverts limited resources from more pressing issues. Abortion rights activists have criticized Rokita’s actions, claiming that they are part of a broader effort to restrict doctors’ practices and limit access to abortion services.
Indiana has recently enacted strict abortion restrictions, permitting the procedure only in cases of fatal fetal abnormality or if the mother’s health is at risk. It is one of the first states to pass such restrictions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The controversy surrounding Dr. Barnard’s case reflects the ongoing debate over abortion rights in the United States.