INDIANAPOLIS – A legal battle between the Indiana attorney general and an Indianapolis doctor who became part of the national abortion debate has reached a Marion County courtroom.
Attorney General Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) announced an investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard after she provided abortion care to a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio.
Dr. Bernard and her medical partner Dr. Amy Caldwell have sued Rokita and Scott Barnhart, director of the Consumer Protection Division, to block the investigation. The doctors’ attorneys have filed a motion requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the AG’s office from accessing patient records.
“The consumer complaints were 100% filed by people who had never met Dr. Bernard, had never gotten medical care from Dr. Bernard,” Kathleen DeLaney, an attorney for the doctors, told reporters after Friday’s hearing.
During the hearing, the judge heard arguments over whether a temporary injunction should be granted.
DeLaney’s team called three doctors as expert witnesses during the hearing and submitted a written statement from a fourth. None are connected to Dr. Bernard or the 10-year-old rape survivor but answered questions on patient-doctor confidentiality.
Attorneys for the state focused their questioning, in part, on whether HIPAA violations include revealing dates related to a patient’s care that are more specific than the year.
DeLaney said Dr. Bernard did not violate any patient privacy laws.
“The attorney general of the state of Indiana has zero authority to enforce HIPAA, which is a federal law, which is enforced by federal authorities, not by Mr. Rokita,” DeLaney said.
Deputy Attorney General Patricia Erdmann gave reporters a brief statement after the hearing, but the AG’s office would only answer questions over email.
“We recognize the significant interest in this matter,” Erdmann said. “The office of the attorney general will speak through its court filings.”
“We will continue to push forward in this legal battle to ensure every patient’s privacy is protected in Indiana,” a spokesperson for AG Rokita said in a statement after the hearing.
During the hearing, attorneys for the state shared that the AG’s investigation into Dr. Amy Calwell has been closed. There are no plans to remove Dr. Caldwell as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, DeLaney said.
Another hearing is set for Monday afternoon, which will include more testimony. After that hearing, the judge is expected to make a decision on whether to grant a preliminary injunction.