Indiana Capital Chronicle

 Dec. 8, 2022

Lawyers for an Indianapolis doctor on Thursday said they would voluntarily withdraw a lawsuit against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita because the case has now shifted to an administrative licensing action.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch ruled last week that he caused “irreparable harm” to the OB-GYN’s reputation and professional standing. But ultimately she chose not to block an investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard — who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old girl from Ohio in June. The doctor has maintained that she is being targeted by Rokita and his office.

“With today’s voluntary dismissal, we preserve our victory in court proving that the Attorney General violated Indiana law by publicly discussing the details of an investigation into Dr. Bernard which he was statutorily required to keep confidential at that stage,” said Attorney Kathleen Delaney in a statement Thursday. “While the motion for emergency relief was pending, AG Rokita dropped his investigation of Dr. Caldwell altogether. We are now shifting all our attention to the complaint Mr. Rokita has filed against Dr. Bernard with the Medical Licensing Board.”

Although Welch denied an injunction, she did find that Rokita violated state confidentiality laws multiple times when he publicly discussed his office’s ongoing investigation into Bernard.

DeLaney, one of Bernard’s lawyers, also pointed to jurisdictional issues that would likely keep the case from moving forward.

That’s because the Republican attorney general sent a complaint against Bernard to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board just days before Welch’s ruling. Rokita said Bernard “failed to immediately report the abuse and rape of a child to Indiana authorities” after performing the abortion on the girl from Ohio.

Welch said in her ruling Friday that because Rokita filed the licensure action with the Medical Licensing Board, the court “no longer has jurisdiction to make any factual findings … even for the purposes of a preliminary order.”

Delaney said “We look forward to defending Dr. Bernard and her medical license against Rokita’s baseless attacks. Rokita’s actions set a dangerous precedent imperiling the provision of lawful patient care and jeopardizing the confidentiality of patient medical records. And Rokita continues to take these actions at taxpayer expense.”

It’s not yet clear when the Indiana Medical Licensing Board will take up the complaint against Bernard. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for late January.

Bernard and her medical partner Dr. Amy Caldwell filed the request for an emergency court order last month in an attempt to block Rokita’s office from accessing patient’s medical records. Lawyers for the doctors said they were also trying to prevent future “unchecked oversteps” by the attorney general.

Their court filing was a follow-up to an earlier complaint filed to initiate a lawsuit against Rokita.

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