Joe Biden’s claim that a 10-year-old girl had allegedly been raped and had to travel from Ohio to Indiana to obtain an abortion has failed to be substantiated by multiple news outlets.
In remarks justifying his executive order seeking to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Biden said Friday:
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 presnency [pregnancy] and maybe save her life. That’s — the last part is my judgment. Ten years old. Ten years old. Raped, six weeks pregnant. Already traumatized. Was forced to travel to another state. Imagine being that little girl. Just — I’m serious — just imagine being that little girl. Ten years old.
This Court has made it clear it will not protect the rights of women.
I will. That’s why today I'm signing an Executive Order to protect access to reproductive health care.
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 8, 2022
The claim, which Biden repeated, appears to have originated on July 1 at the Indianapolis Star with only one source, Caitlin Bernard, M.D., an activist abortionist with ties to Planned Parenthood Indiana Georgetown, who is assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Indiana University School of Medicine.
According to the IndyStar:
On Monday three days after the Supreme Court issued its groundbreaking decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, took a call from a colleague, a child abuse doctor in Ohio.
Hours after the Supreme Court action, the Buckeye state had outlawed any abortion after six weeks. Now this doctor had a 10-year-old patient in the office who was six weeks and three days pregnant.
Could Bernard help?
“Indiana soon could have similar restrictions,” the IndyStar reportedly observed to Bernard, to which she responded, “It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care.”
The Star News Network reached out to Bernard, the sole source for the story, for further details, but has received no response.
Bernard was asked if she could explain what a “child abuse doctor” is, as identified by the IndyStar, as the colleague who called her about the alleged 10-year-old girl who had been raped and become pregnant.
The Star News Network also asked for further details about Bernard’s response to her colleague’s request for assistance:
Could you provide further details about the story? For example, did you or the “child abuse doctor” report the alleged rape to the police and child protective services? If so, could you provide the report of that referral? If not, could you say why neither you nor the “child abuse doctor” reported the rape to the authorities?
Megan Fox of PJ Media began fact-checking the entire story.
🚩 #1. A pregnant 10 year old is evidence of a heinous crime against a child but in every article (and there are SO MANY) thre is no mention of criminal investigation, no police involvement, not even a town where this allegedly occurred. pic.twitter.com/pRuwtmWoR4
— Megan Fox (@MeganFoxWriter) July 5, 2022
On Monday, Fox noted Bernard appears to actually enjoy the media spotlight when she is attacking restrictions on abortion.
🚩 #6 #DrCaitlynBernard, the only source, is an abortionist and has been in the NYT participating in an anti-Trump hit piece and is clearly an activist. She has a stake in preserving abortion, it literally pays her bills. https://t.co/fdQJFxQNgO
— Megan Fox (@MeganFoxWriter) July 5, 2022
Here she is again #CaitlinBernard in June interviewed by PBS, crying. Predicting doom…the very thing she's now claiming. How is she in contact with so much media? https://t.co/ev5cFoKY8R pic.twitter.com/d3AnfjHrqt
— Megan Fox (@MeganFoxWriter) July 5, 2022
As Fox found, however, in 2018, Indiana Right to Life performed an audit of public record pregnancy reports and found nine abortionists – among them Bernard, allegedly neglected to report minor abortions to the state’s health department and social services, as the law requires.
It’s not news the abortion industry has been outed in the past for its alleged failure to report statutory rape and sexual abuse of minors to police and child protective services.
“Planned Parenthood is a rapist’s best friend,” posted national pro-life organization Live Action Sunday.
Planned Parenthood is a rapist’s best friend.https://t.co/LLzPo16Zw2
— Live Action (@LiveAction) July 10, 2022
Several days earlier, Live Action President Lila Rose observed that, in his effort to immediately target pro-life Americans, Biden failed to place any emphasis on what has been done with the alleged rapist himself.
“If the horrific story of the 10-yr old girl pregnant by rape is true, is the rapist behind bars? Is the 10-yr old safe from the abuser?” Rose asked.
“Pro-abortion media is focusing on demanding the preborn baby be killed, instead of the rapist punished,” she continued. “The rapist is guilty: not the children.”
If the horrific story of the 10-yr old girl pregnant by rape is true, is the rapist behind bars? Is the 10-yr old safe from the abuser?
Pro-abortion media is focusing on demanding the preborn baby be killed, instead of the rapist punished.
The rapist is guilty: not the children
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) July 8, 2022
In 2008, Live Action conducted an undercover investigation to explore how eight Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, and one independent facility, would respond to a pro-life activist posing as a young girl disclosing she was the victim of statutory rape.
“Eight Planned Parenthood facilities were willing to cover up sexual abuse in six difference states,” Live Action’s investigation report headline read.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler later fact-checked the story Biden repeated in his remarks, stating at the outset:
This is the account of a one-source story that quickly went viral around the world — and into the talking points of the president.
“The only source cited for the anecdote was Bernard,” Kessler said. “She’s on the record, but there is no indication that the newspaper made other attempts to confirm her account”:
The story’s lead reporter, Shari Rudavsky, did not respond to a query asking whether additional sourcing was obtained. A Gannett spokeswoman provided a comment from Bro Krift, the newspaper’s executive editor: “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.”
As Fox noted about Kessler’s “fact-check”:
This story is most likely a fraud and a political hit job, and there’s no evidence that a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim even existed in Ohio, let alone had an abortion. But then Kessler had to go and ruin a perfectly good fact-check that made Democrats look stupid. Instead of determining that this story lacks credibility, Kessler actually concluded that it’s fact-based because of how many times it has been repeated, including by Joe Biden.
This is a very difficult story to check. Bernard is on the record, but obtaining documents or other confirmation is all but impossible without details that would identify the locality where the rape occurred.
With news reports around the globe and now a presidential imprimatur, however, the story has acquired the status of a “fact” no matter its provenance. If a rapist is ever charged, the fact finally would have more solid grounding.
As Fox emphasized, Kessler’s conclusion appears to suggest “the truth” is determined by how much a story is repeated and who repeats it.
In a comment Tuesday to The Star News Network, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler said he “used quotation marks around ‘fact.’”
“It was an ironic commentary on how a story with such flimsy support was widely embraced,” he further explained. “What you wrote – “Kessler’s conclusion appears to suggest ‘the truth’ is determined by how much a story is repeated and who repeats it” – is wrong and I request you correct it. I did not suggest that conclusion at all.”
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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Caitlin Bernard” by Indiana University School of Medicine. Background Photo “Joe Biden” by The White House.
Editor’s note: This report was updated to include new comments by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.