The Indiana doctor who provided an abortion for a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio has defended herself against her anti-abortion critics in her first TV interview.
Dr Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, came under fire from a string of Republican politicians and right-wing media personalities who questioned if the case had even happened.
Now she has urged those people who doubt children need abortion to “Come spend a day in my clinic. Come see the care that we provide every single day.”
“The situations that people find themselves in, and in need of abortion care are some of the most difficult that you could imagine. And that’s why we as physicians need to be able to provide that care unhindered, that medical decisions need to be made between a physician and their patients,” she said in an interview with CBS Evening News.
The doctor was asked if she had felt “threatened” in the course of carrying out her professional duties.
“Yes. It shows how, you know, abortion, instead of being part of health care, which it is, a needed life-saving procedure, which it is, has been used to create a wedge between people politically and personally. And it shows how far we have come, and how sad that is,” she said.
The abortion that Dr Bernard provided took place just days after the US Supreme Court ruled against Roe v Wade and overturned the federal right to abortion.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arrested on suspicion of raping the girl who was from Ohio, where abortion is now banned for pregnancies effectively beyond six weeks.
After the youngster travelled to Indiana, where abortion is still legal up to 22 weeks, Dr Bernard was heavily criticised by conservatives, including Indiana’s Republican attorney general Todd Rokita.
The politician announced that he was launching an investigation into Dr Bernard’s actions, even though he did not say what she might have done wrong, and she in turn has now sued him for defamation.
Dr Bernard earlier wrote in The Washington Post that she was “anguished, desperate and angry” about the debate surrounding abortion in the US.
“Life has been hard — for me and for my family,” she wrote,
“I’ve been called a liar. I’ve had my medical and ethical integrity questioned on national television by people who have never met me. I’ve been threatened.”