Friday, May 26, 2023

Weaponizing Government: Only Bad When It's Not Your Side?

      The basic facts aren't in dispute: after Ohio's near-total ban on abortions took effect, the family of a ten-year-old rape victim from that state sought and obtained an abortion in Indiana when the child became pregnant as a result of the crime.

      This kind of detail rarely makes the news, a tragic footnote to lurid coverage of the arrest and subsequent trial.  But with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion was in the spotlight and when the Indianapolis Star ran a story about the effects of the Supreme Court decision in early July 2022, Indiana OB-GYN Dr. Caitlin Bernard was among the doctors they interviewed.  She provided no more information about the case than I did in the first paragraph, but was further quoted in remarks critical of impending changes in Indiana law affecting abortions: "It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care."  She hard sharper words later on social media.

      Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has shown a keen interest in culture-war issues in recent years (perhaps with an eye to higher office) and was quick to get into the fray.  After initial news reports and Presidential comment, there was talk of the case being "too convenient" and possibly made up.  Once the case was confirmed, Mr. Rokita pledged to investigate, alleging irregularities in reporting the incident to proper authorities.

      The Attorney General's efforts resulted in a hearing yesterday for Dr. Bernard before the Indiana Medial Licensing Board on allegations that the doctor had failed to report child abuse, was unfit to practice and had violated patient privacy laws.  After fourteen hours, the Board found she had reported properly (readily verified from hospital records), was indeed fit to practice medicine, but had publicly shared too much information about the patient.

      Whatever your opinion about abortion, it seems clear the Attorney General was responding in a partisan manner to the doctor's freely expressed and far from illegal opinions -- and that should not be something that gets a person brought up before their professional licensing board, accused of unfitness to practice in that profession.

      So when you speak of "weaponized prosecution," here's an example.


Tam said...

I'd felt pretty sure Rokita had been diligently buffing up his MAGA/kulturkampf creds with an eye toward another run at the governor's mansion or maybe a Senate seat, but he swears up and down he's running for reelection as AG in '24.

Roberta X said...

Perhaps he feels he's found his niche. In today's GOP, pushing kulturkampf seems to be the done thing.