I-Team 8

Indiana attorney general, doctors face off in court over patient’s abortion records

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Attorneys for the doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old and Attorney General Todd Rokita went head-to-head in court this morning.

The hearing was to decide if Rokita has the right to obtain the patient’s confidential health records and whether or not the investigations by the Attorney General’s Office into the doctors can continue.

Cameras were not allowed inside the 7th floor courtroom inside of Marion County Superior Court.

Attorney General Rokita and plaintiff’s Dr. Caitlin Bernard and Dr. Amy Caldwell were not in court Friday morning. In court there was only enough time to hear testimony from witnesses called by the plaintiffs.

Over the course of about two hours both sides questioned three doctors who have decades of experience with patients. All of them testified that the release of confidential patient information to Rokita would be harmful to both patients and doctors, because it would undermine the trust needed to properly treat them.

The defense argued the request for those records by Rokita, as part of the Attorney Generals investigation, were important to determine if Dr. Bernard violated HIPPA laws that protect patient information.

The Attorney General’s Office says after the hearing they would only be making comments about the case through court filings.

“We have a lot to do and I’d ask that you let us excuse ourselves so we can get back to the important work of the office. That’s all I can say at this time,” said Patricia Erdmann with the Attorney General Office.

Attorney’s for the plaintiff’s said Rokita doesn’t have the authority to prosecute HIPAA violations. By using consumer complaints, made by people from outside the state of Indiana, to justify his investigation he’s abusing his power as attorney general.

Kathleen DeLaney, attorney for Dr. Bernard and Dr. Caldwell, said, “The hearing on the preliminary injunction is separate an apart from the merits of the underlying investigation that Mr. Rokita claims to be prosecuting. In fact, the whole point of the injunction is to halt the investigations, so they’re kind of putting the cart before the horse.”

Over the weekend the judge in the case will decide if Dr. Bernard will be forced to take the stand next Monday when the hearing will resume.

When it does, the Defense will call their witnesses to the stand to testify.