500+ physicians defend OB-GYN reprimanded for discussing 10-year-old's abortion

More than 500 physicians in Indiana have signed a letter urging the state's medical licensing board to reconsider its decision to reprimand an obstetrician-gynecologist for mentioning a 10-year-old rape victim's abortion case, NPR reported June 3. 

During the week of May 22, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board reprimanded Caitlin Bernard, MD, an OB-GYN, and voted to fine her $3,000 for speaking to the media about an abortion case last summer. Now, physicians in the state are urging the board to reconsider the ruling, saying it "sets a very dangerous and chilling precedent for each one of us, regardless of medical specialty." 

When Dr. Bernard spoke to The Indianapolis Star last summer, she mentioned the case of an unnamed 10-year-old patient who had to cross state lines to get an abortion. Physicians in Indiana say speaking in general terms about patient cases the way Dr. Bernard did is the same way they explained COVID-19 risks at the beginning of the pandemic, and how they often help patients understand other health risks. 

"As a physician in Indiana, everybody is scared. Everybody is upset," Tracey Wilkinson, MD, who teaches pediatrics at Indianapolis-based Indiana University School of Medicine, told the news outlet. "Everybody is wondering if they could be next." 

The board did not respond to NPR's requests for comment. 


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