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Attorney General Rob Bonta issues abortion guidance for California

Posted at 4:48 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 21:14:15-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — Following the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, California's attorney general issued guidance on abortion rights and protections under state law.

Bonta says there are eight laws in place protecting reproductive freedom, including the right to safe and legal abortions. He advises anyone whose rights are violated to seek immediate support.

"If their rights are being denied, they can reach out to local law enforcement or our office who can intervene on their behalf to make sure that they are not being discriminated against, making sure that their rights are not being violated. We can make sure that their rights are vindicated through our efforts or through local law enforcement.”

Bonta says earlier this week there was a situation where complying with the law didn’t seem to be enough. He told 23ABC that a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was a victim of rape sought an early first-term abortion in the state of Indiana where it is fully legal to get an abortion.

On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told WEWS that “Ohio’s heartbeat law has a medical emergency exception, broader than just the life of the mother. She did not have to leave Ohio for treatment.”

However, it isn't clear how the 10-year-old would have qualified for an abortion under this exception.

“The language here is 'medical emergency', which would suggest that the person does not have time to go to another state,” Professor of Law and Bioethics Sharona Hoffman from Case Western Reserve University said. “[Doctors] have to engage in a calculus. They have to balance the patient’s best interests against their own best interest and think about whether doing a procedure will result in a risk of prosecution for themselves. And that is very dangerous.”

Bonta adds following the abortion the medical provider is being investigated by the Indiana state attorney general.

According to WRTV, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita issued a statement on Thursday afternoon vowing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the abortion and whether or not the proper reports were filed.

“Aside from the horror caused here by illegal immigration, we are investigating this situation and are waiting for the relevant documents to prove if the abortion and/or the abuse were reported, as Dr. Caitlin Bernard had requirements to do both under Indiana law. The failure to do so constitutes a crime in Indiana, and her behavior could also affect her licensure. Additionally, if a HIPAA violation did occur, that may affect next steps as well. I will not relent in the pursuit of the truth.”

WRTV went on to report that lawyers for the Indianapolis doctor who performed the abortion have filed a cease-and-desist letter against Indiana's Attorney General Todd Rokita.

“Please cease and desist from making false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession, which constitute defamation per se," the letter says. "Moreover, to the extent that any statement you make exceeds the general scope of your authority as Indiana’s Attorney General, such a statement forms the basis of an actionable defamation claim.”

All of this leads to why Bonta feels guidance is necessary.

“While California is a very strong reproductive freedom state. We’re very aware of the fact that others are not. With no basis, she did all of her reporting, she was fully compliant with the law. It appears to be an act of intimidation, and this is a 10-year-old, a girl who was raped. Again this is coming from a state ag who has decided to focus on a provider who fully complied with the law in performing this abortion.”