An Ohio man has been accused of raping a 10-year-old girl whose case drew national attention following comments by a doctor that the girl had to travel to Indiana for an abortion, a story that had led some prominent Republicans, including Ohio Attorney General. and a congressman, to suggest that it was made up.
Democratic US President Joe Biden highlighted the case last week in signing an executive order aimed at protecting abortion access as a state after the Republican-led state, including Ohio, enacted near-total restrictions. after the recent landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court.
A detective testified Wednesday at an initial court appearance for the 27-year-old suspect that Columbus police learned of the girl’s pregnancy after her mother alerted Franklin County Children’s Services on June 22, The reported. Columbus Dispatch. The detective said the girl had an abortion in Indianapolis on June 30.
The detective said DNA from the Indianapolis abortion clinic was being analyzed to confirm paternity.
An Indianapolis doctor who provides abortion services, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, told The Indianapolis Star that such a girl had had an abortion because the girl could not have the procedure in Ohio under a newly imposed state ban on early abortions. detectable “fetal heartbeats”. A judge lifted the suspension of the ban after the US Supreme Court ruling overturned Roe v. Wade.
Appearing on Fox News Monday, Ohio Republican Attorney General Dave Yost said he had not heard “a whisper” from law enforcement in Ohio about any reports or arrests made in connection with such a case.
“Another lie. Anyone surprised?” US Republican Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted in reaction.
Then on Wednesday, Jordan tweeted that the suspect “should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” He left a message with his office on Wednesday seeking comment.
In the Fox interview, Yost suggested that the young rape victim would have complied with the exception of Ohio’s “heartbeat” abortion ban for medical emergencies.
“This young lady, if she exists and if something horrible happened to her, it breaks my heart to think about it, she didn’t have to leave Ohio to find treatment,” he said.
The law defines an emergency as one that is life-threatening or involves a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Under that definition, the 10-year-old’s condition would not have met the threshold of an emergency, Kellie Copeland, director of Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion rights group, said Wednesday.
In a statement Wednesday, Yost said the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation stands ready to help prosecute the case. He did not address his earlier suggestions that the case was fabricated.
Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, previously called the crime a tragedy. “He has said that if the evidence supports it, the rapist should spend the rest of his life in prison,” said DeWine’s spokesman, Dan Tierney.
Police say the man confessed to raping the girl. He was arrested Tuesday and has not pleaded guilty.
Court records do not specify if or how the suspect knew the girl. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case and the police department did not respond to a request for additional details. The Associated Press generally does not identify sexual assault victims and, for now, is not naming the suspect to avoid inadvertently identifying the girl.
In 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of Bernard, the doctor in the 10-year-old girl’s case, challenging a law passed by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature that largely barred a procedure. abortion in the second trimester, which the legislation called “dismemberment abortion”.
The law first took effect last week after a federal judge lifted an injunction blocking it, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth, Kantele Franko, and Samantha Hendrickson in Columbus, Tom Davies in Indianapolis, and Sophia Tulp in New York contributed to this report.
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