In early May, after the draft Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization left little doubt what would soon happen to abortion rights, the National Republican Senatorial Committee distributed talking points to the party’s incumbents and candidates. Recognizing that most Americans wanted the Roe v. Wade precedent to be left intact, the party’s message and tone was inherently defensive.
Indeed, the National Republican Senatorial Committee advised incumbents and candidates to tell voters, among other things, “Republicans DO NOT want to throw doctors ... in jail.”
The rhetorical strategy made sense: Many Americans would be repulsed by the idea of Republican policies leading to the prosecution of physicians. The problem, of course, was that GOP measures were already eyeing possible felony charges against doctors who help terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Indeed, in the wake of Roe's demise, Republicans continue to see physicians as possible villains. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, for example, recently suggested that doctors who perform abortions may be targeted for prosecution in her state.
As Politico reported, there’s a similar story unfolding in Indiana.
Indiana’s Republican attorney general said on Wednesday that his office planned to investigate the Indiana doctor who helped a 10-year-old rape victim who crossed state lines to have an abortion.
As we discussed this morning, the world recently learned of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who’d been impregnated by a rapist. A child abuse physician, aware of the Buckeye State’s new abortion ban, reached out to an obstetrician-gynecologist in Indiana, where Republican policymakers have not yet imposed a new abortion ban of their own.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard acknowledged that she was the physician who treated the child, who was six weeks and three days into the pregnancy. (Ohio’s abortion ban takes effect after six weeks.)
And now Todd Rokita, Indiana’s Republican attorney general, has vowed to launch an investigation — into the doctor who provided care for the rape victim.
“We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure if she failed to report. And in Indiana it’s a crime ... to intentionally not report,” Rokita told Fox News. “This is a child, and there’s a strong public interest in understanding if someone under the age of 16 or under the age of 18 or really any woman is having abortion in our state. And then if a child is being sexually abused, of course parents need to know. Authorities need to know. Public policy experts need to know.”
To the extent that reality matters, the rape had already been reported to the authorities before the abortion.
But even putting these relevant details aside, imagine looking at these series of events and thinking the physician who helped the child is the one worthy of state law enforcement scrutiny.