It was a nightmare scenario come to life: The Indianapolis Star reported on a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been sexually assaulted. She was also six weeks and three days pregnant, and unable to get an abortion in her own state due to Republican policies. She had to go to Indiana for care — before its Republican policymakers imposed an abortion ban of their own.
The story was so gut-wrenching that many on the right literally didn’t believe it. As regular readers might recall, Dave Yost, Ohio’s Republican attorney general, appeared on Fox News and cast doubt on the story. The claims were a likely “fabrication,” Yost said before condemning the Indianapolis Star for publishing its report.
He had plenty of company. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said the story was probably “fake.” The Republican governor went on to call it “literal fake news.” In a since-deleted tweet, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio described the allegations as a “lie.”
Conservative media outlets like Fox News, The Washington Times, and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal followed suit, telling conservatives the story “was not true,” “a huge lie,” and deserved to be seen as a “fanciful tale.”
Making matters worse, NBC News reported that local health providers are drawing attention to the fact that other minors in Ohio also had to cross state lines for the same reason.
In affidavits filed this month included as part of a lawsuit challenging the Ohio law — which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion — two separate providers said they each had a case in which a minor was sexually assaulted and had to travel out of state to terminate their pregnancies.
One of the affidavits was filed by Aeran Trick, the operations manager of the Women’s Med Center of Dayton, who noted a teenaged patient who’d been sexually assaulted, allegedly by a family member.
Ohio’s abortion ban prevented the girl from terminating the unwanted pregnancy. NBC News report added that Ohio law enforcement was aware of the case, and officials had to go to Indianapolis to retrieve tissue to be tested as part of a sexual assault investigation.
“I am concerned that Ohio’s ban and the need to travel increasingly far distances to obtain abortion care not only causes unimaginable harm to these young victims, but could also hamper law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute these cases in the future,” Trick said in the affidavit.
As a legal matter, the affidavits will be considered as part of the ongoing litigation, but as a political matter, revelations such as these create an underlying question that Republicans should answer before Election Day: In the United States, should the government force raped children to take their pregnancies to term against their wishes?