Daughter of doctor who gave 10-year-old an abortion faced kidnapping threat

·2 min read

The Indiana doctor who carried out an abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim has previously faced threats that extremists would kidnap her daughter - and was publicly named by an anti-abortion group linked to Amy Coney Barrett before she became a Supreme Court justice.

Dr Caitlin Bernard testified last year that she stopped performing first-trimester abortions at a clinic in South Bend, Indiana, after the FBI alerted Planned Parenthood of the threat to her family.

Dr Bernard was one of six doctors named on the website of an extreme anti-abortion group Right to Life Michiana in a section entitled “Local Abortion Threat”, according to The Guardian.

Ms Coney Barrett, who helped overturn Roe v Wade in June, signed a 2006 advert published by the group when she was a professor at Notre Dame, which is based in South Bend.

The advert stated that all the signatories “oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death”.

The advert was published in The South Bend Tribune newspaper by St Joseph County Right to Life, which merged with Right to Life Michiana.

During her confirmation hearings for the US Supreme Court, Ms Coney Barrett says that she signed the advert as she was leaving church and did not recall actually doing it.

Dr Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive healthcare provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally on June 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis (AP)
Dr Caitlin Bernard, a reproductive healthcare provider, speaks during an abortion rights rally on June 25, 2022, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis (AP)

She claimed she had signed it as a private citizen and that it was “consistent with the views of my church.”

“Reports regarding threats against Dr Bernard’s family in 2020 are sadly true,” Kendra Barkoff Lamy, spokesperson for Dr Bernard, said in a statement.

“These personal and dangerous threats are obviously devastating to her, a board-certified doctor who has dedicated her life to the betterment of women and providing crucial reproductive care, including abortions.

“Sadly, Dr Bernard is not alone, and this happens to doctors like her who provide abortions across our nation.

“The fact that Dr Bernard continues to provide critical reproductive care, even after she has received these threats, just shows the depth of her compassion and commitment as a physician.

“She is grateful for the support she has received, but she asks for respect for her family’s privacy.”

Dr Bernard provided care to the 10-year-old girl, who was six weeks pregnant, three days after the Supreme Court handed down its decision overturning Roe v Wade.

A 27-year-old man from Columbus, Ohio, has been charged with raping the child, despite claims by some Republicans and conservative news outlets that the story was made up.

Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, a Republican, has said he would investigate Dr Bernard’s actions, even though he has not said on what grounds.