• Lawyers for Dr. Caitlin Bernard have taken the first formal step to filing a defamation lawsuit.
  • A notice was sent Tuesday to Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.
  • Rokita falsely claimed Bernhard had a "history" of failing to report abortions to the state.

A doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim moved to file a defamation lawsuit against Indiana's attorney general on Tuesday after he threatened investigations and possible criminal charges against her. 

In a statement, Caitlin Bernard's lawyers said they have taken the "first step in the process to potentially filing a defamation suit against" Indiana's GOP Attorney General Todd Rokita.

In an interview last week with Fox News, Rokitam, a Republican, said he would investigate Bernard for possible criminal prosecution, calling her an "abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report."

But in the tort claim notice filed Tuesday, Kathleen A. DeLaney, an attorney for Bernard, wrote that a "simple check" of the state's medical license database would have revealed that the doctor had "no disciplinary history," much less a pattern of failing to submit reports of abortions provided to potential rape victims, as required by Indiana law.

The notice argues that Rokita's public statements "constitutes defamation," accusing the attorney general of making harmful statements that targeted the doctor for simply performing an abortion.

Bernard terminated the pregnancy of a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who traveled across state lines for the procedure due to her home state's stricter laws, triggered by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The case was cited by President Joe Biden after it was reported by the Indianapolis Star. Several prominent Republicans, including Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, in turn claimed that Bernard fabricated the story.

Tuesday's tort notice triggers a 90-day period for the state to investigate or settle the claim, after which Bernard may file a defamation lawsuit.

"Mr. Rokita either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements," the notice states. "Given the current political atmosphere in the United States, Mr. Rokita's comments were intended to heighten public condemnation of Dr. Bernard, who legally provided legitimate medical care."

A spokesperson for Rokita did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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