Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana physician whom Republicans targeted for providing a legal abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim, made her first televised appearance Tuesday since the ordeal unfolded.
Bernard, who cared for the child from Ohio because her home state has outlawed abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade last month, said in a sit-down interview with “CBS Evening News’” Norah O’Donnell that anyone who doubts children need abortion care should “spend a day in my clinic.”
“Unfortunately, sexual assault in children is not uncommon,” she said. “I’m not the only provider who has taken care of young children needing abortion care.”
Her remarks come after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost appeared on Fox News earlier this month casting doubt on the existence of Bernard’s patient, whose health care needs had been reported on in The Indianapolis Star. There was “not a whisper anywhere” of a 10-year-old being raped in Ohio, Yost claimed. Media investigations, however, confirmed the rape case days later.
Bernard also pushed back on attacks from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who assailed her on Fox News as an “abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report” an abortion performed for a minor, adding that he would possibly pursue charges against her.
“I’m a physician,” she said. “I spent my entire life working to have this position to be able to take care of patients every single day.”
She reiterated, as she did in a defamation lawsuit against Rokita, that she has never failed to report an abortion on a patient younger than 16 to Indiana authorities, as the state requires.
Bernard says she believes the spotlight on her patient’s case may be a wake-up call for people who wanted strict abortion bans to go into effect, as they have in about a dozen states so far.
“I think we’re at a time in our country where people are starting to realize the impact of these anti-abortion laws,” she told O’Donnell. “And now when it’s finally become impossible for some people, I think people realize that that is actually not what they intended. That is not what they want for children, for women to be put in these situations of life-threatening conditions of traumatic pregnancies.”
The conservative attacks on her, she continued, show “how abortion, instead of being part of health care, which it is, [and] a needed lifesaving procedure, which it is, has been used to create a wedge between people politically and personally.”
Bernard’s interview aired on the second day of Indiana’s special legislative session, where Republicans are working to pass legislation that would ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. With GOP majorities in both the state’s Senate and House, Democrats are unlikely to stop the bill from becoming law in the next few weeks.