Indiana AG Todd Rokita is one of the few politicians in our polarized age who is despised on both sides of the political aisle. His naked ambition has led him into the fever swamps of the far Right, and the most recent example–reported in the linked article from Talking Points Memo–was his effort to smear the ob-gyn who terminated the pregnancy of a raped ten-year-old.
Rokita suggested that the doctor, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, had failed to file mandated reports with the state about the abuse and the abortion. At least, Rokita claimed, he could find no evidence for any reports. Bernard is an “abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report,” Rokita told Fox News on Wednesday. “We’re gathering the information, we’re gathering the evidence as we speak and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at [Bernard’s] licensure, if she failed to report. In Indiana it’s a crime for … to intentionally not report.”
If Rokita weren’t shameless, he would have apologized after Indianapolis’ Fox affiliate easily ascertained–via a simple public records request– that Bernard had properly filed all required paperwork, and had also reported that the patient was a victim of abuse. (That abuse had also been reported to authorities in Ohio by the girl’s physician there.)
In other words Rokita went forward with a series of defamatory claims and accusations against Bernard and called down a nationwide campaign of harassment and vilification against her apparently without even the most cursory of records checks that were not only available to him as attorney general but members of the public in roughly 24 hours.
Rokita is one of several despicable Republicans who responded to the initial reports about a pregnant ten-year-old with accusations that the incident was manufactured–that the child didn’t exist, and that the rape and pregnancy were inventions of those hated liberals.
Those attacks were really another form of rape.
I never doubted the accuracy of the report, but–like most Americans–assumed that a pregnancy in someone so young was a very rare situation. I was shocked to learn that it is far less rare than I had supposed.
The New York Times recently reported that more than 1,000 girls under 15 seek abortions each year.
An article in The New Republic reported figures from countries with total or near-total bans on abortion.
In Paraguay, where abortion is banned unless it threatens the mother’s life, health officials forced an 11-year-old girl to carry a pregnancy until she could obtain a cesarean section after she was raped by her stepfather in 2015. An 11-year-old girl in Argentina, which had similarly strict laws until recently, delivered a 23-week-old baby by cesarean section in 2019 after officials there refused to allow her to obtain an abortion. The young Argentine girl reportedly attempted suicide twice and begged doctors to “remove what the old man put inside me.”
It’s unclear exactly how often this phenomenon occurs—and even a single instance of it is heartrending—but available numbers suggest it occurs with some frequency. Amnesty International reported last year that in Paraguay, which ranks between New Jersey and Arizona in population, more than 1,000 girls who were 14 years old or younger gave birth in 2019 and early 2020. An analysis this week by The Columbus Dispatch found 50 reports of rape or sexual abuse toward girls 15 years old or younger in Columbus, Ohio, since May of this year. Using data from the Ohio Department of Health, the newspaper also reported that 306 girls who were 15 years old or younger obtained an abortion in that state between 2016 and 2020.
The article went on to quote the truly horrifying reaction to this particular incident by those who have spearheaded the forced birth movement.
Jim Bopp, an Indiana lawyer who serves as the general counsel for the National Right to Life organization, told Politico on Thursday that the model legislation he drafted for Indiana would have required the 10-year-old girl to continue the pregnancy. “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” Bopp told the news outlet.
It seems like the denialism isn’t really about the 10-year-old girl in question but rather about obfuscating the natural consequences of overturning Roe. By eliminating the constitutional right to reproductive self-government and enacting abortion bans without rape or incest exemptions, anti-abortion activists have implicitly created a new right to take Roe’s place. Rapists can now rest assured that if they impregnate their victim, state and local governments will work tirelessly to ensure that the survivor—even if she is a 10-year-old girl—carries that pregnancy to term.
Welcome to MAGA world.