- The Washington Times - Monday, July 11, 2022

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has seen no indication that a 10-year-old girl from his state traveled to Indiana for an abortion, fueling questions about the veracity of a report President Biden cited to boost his pro-choice agenda.

Mr. Yost said Monday that his office has heard “not a whisper” about a case involving the rape of a young Ohio girl, which went viral last week.

The anecdote in the Indianapolis Star cited Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indiana abortion provider and pro-choice advocate, as its sole source.

“We work closely with the decentralized law-enforcement system in Ohio, but we have regular contact with prosecutors and local police and sheriffs. Not a whisper anywhere,” the Republican attorney general said on the Fox News Channel show “Jesse Watters Primetime.”

Even though local authorities conduct prosecutions, Mr. Yost said his office would directly know of any requests for DNA evidence.

“Something that may be even more telling: My office runs the crime lab,” Mr. Yost added. “Any case like this, you’re going to have a rape kit, you’re going to have biological evidence, and you’d be looking for DNA analysis, which we do most of the DNA analysis in Ohio. There is no case request for an analysis that looks anything like this.”

The story came under national scrutiny Friday after Mr. Biden blasted Ohio’s heartbeat law, saying a 10-year-old girl shouldn’t be forced “to give birth to a rapist’s child,” at a signing ceremony for an executive order expanding abortion access.

“This isn’t some imagined horror. It’s already happening. Just last week, it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim in Ohio — 10 years old — and she was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life,” Mr. Biden said.

The White House has declined to provide backup for the claim. In addition, two left-tilting fact-checking sites, Snopes and the Washington Post fact-checker have been unable so far to verify the report.

Dr. Bernard told the IndyStar that she received a call from an Ohio colleague about a 10-year-old patient who was unable to obtain an abortion in the Buckeye State because she was six weeks and three days pregnant.

The call reportedly came a few days after the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which placed the states back in charge of abortion lawmaking.

“But for now, the procedure still is legal here,” said the July 1 article in the IndyStar. “And so the girl soon was on her way to Indiana to Bernard‘s care.”

Ohio’s heartbeat law bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically six to eight weeks’ gestation. 

But the statute doesn’t specify six weeks, in a way that would make “six weeks and three days” a legal problem and also allows exceptions for medical emergencies — details that Mr. Yost said cast doubt on the story.

“Ohio’s heartbeat law has a medical emergency exception broader than just the life of the mother,” Mr. Yost said. “This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her — it breaks my heart to think about it — she did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment.”

Mr. Yost also said that it would be a crime in Ohio to fail to report the rape of a child.

“Now the doctor in Indiana isn’t in our jurisdiction, obviously. We don’t know who the originating doctor in Ohio was, if they even exist,” Mr. Yost said. “But the bottom line is it is a crime if you’re a mandated reporter to fail to report.”

He also said that in Ohio, “the rape of a 10-year-old means life in prison.”

“I know our prosecutors and cops in this state,” Mr. Yost said. “There’s not a one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock in their jurisdiction if there was the slightest hint that this occurred there.”

Dr. Bernard, who would be a mandated reporter under Indiana law, declined to provide additional information on the case.

IndyStar executive editor Bro Krift stood by the story in a statement through a Gannett spokesperson, according to the Post fact-checker.

“The facts and sourcing about people crossing state lines into Indiana, including the 10-year-old girl, for abortions are clear. We have no additional comment at this time,” Mr. Krift said.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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