AG fights for access to medical records in abortion investigations

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Judge Heather Welch ordered the state to provide someone from the AG’s office who could answer questions on the stand.

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawyers for a local doctor and the attorney general’s office squared off in Marion County Court on Friday for an emergency preliminary injunction hearing.

During the hearing, Judge Heather Welch decided she wanted to know more before deciding Dr. Caitlyn Bernard asks to stop Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s investigation into the doctor’s handling of an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.

Welch ordered the state to provide someone from the AG’s office who could answer questions at the booth. She said she will also decide if Bernard will have to testify.

Neither Rokita nor Bernard was present for Friday’s hearing. However, the two released statements following the proceedings. Bernard’s statement reads, in part:

We must show our patients that we will defend their right to confidential care. Every patient should know that their medical records will not be handed over to a politician who decides to open an unfounded investigation based on their own political agenda.

Rokita’s office released this statement:

“Our team always follows the law and seeks the truth – because that is the role of the Attorney General. We place the utmost importance on patient privacy and ethical standards in medicine. We will continue to push forward in this legal battle to ensure the privacy of every patient in Indiana.

RELATED: Doctor sues Indiana AG over access to patient medical records in abortion investigations

Bernard’s team argues that this case is ultimately about privacy and that consumer complaints from third parties without direct knowledge of a medical procedure are not sufficient to allow the state to seek and obtain the patient’s complete medical records.

Bernard’s legal team submitted portions of some of the complaints in his original lawsuit calling them “invalid consumer complaints” from people with no direct knowledge of the case or the young rape victim.

Friday’s hearing lasted nearly three hours. It included opening statements from both parties and testimony from three doctors called by the plaintiffs to discuss medical ethics and confidentiality.

RELATED: Dr. Caitlin Bernard’s Lawyer Handles Consumer Complaints in AG Inquiry

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