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The Indy Star Got Something Very Wrong in 10-Year-Old Story

Today, the Columbus Dispatch put out a report on the 10-year-old pregnant rape victim in Ohio whose story went viral after the Indianapolis Star framed it as a post-Roe nightmare. The Indy Star’s reporting raised questions about the veracity of the story because it cited only one biased source and had no corroborating police documentation. After intense media scrutiny spurred by questions about the veracity of the claims, it was revealed that Gerson Fuentes, an illegal alien from Guatemala, is alleged to be the rapist and wasn’t taken into custody until July 12, despite Columbus police having a report about the crime on June 22.

But that wasn’t the only information missing from the Indy Star’s reporting. The paper, owned by Gannett, didn’t do any homework before reporting that the girl had to travel to Indiana for an abortion due to what they claimed were restrictive laws 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?

The initial reporting never included any analysis from Ohio legislators. If it had, they would have discovered two things: Ohio does not have a 6-week ban on abortions, and Ohio law has several exceptions for abortions in these types of extreme cases that would have covered the abused child. Ohio Republicans, including Attorney General Dave Yost, have all affirmed that this child’s case would have been covered under the exception. “Ohio has a medical emergency section, broader than just the life of the mother. This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her… she did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment,” Yost told Jesse Watters on Fox News’ “Primetime” on July 11, one day before anyone was alerted that there was a criminal case into this situation.

The Columbus Dispatch actually admitted that the Indy Star’s reporting was wrong, writing, “Ohio law does not make any exceptions for rape or incest but does allow exceptions for the health of the mother. Because of the girl’s age, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the girl would have fallen under that exception.”

Pro-abortion advocates and talking heads have been busy trying to claim that the attorney general and other Ohio legislators are lying, but the law seems very clear. No one in authority on the Republican side in Ohio is on the record saying that this child’s terrible predicament wouldn’t be covered by the exception clauses in the law. In fact, Yost’s office clarified the exceptions in the law, explaining in detail what they mean and pointing out that physicians have wide authority in deciding which patients meet the exceptions.

The italicized language is crucial, as another provision — ORC 2919.16(K) — defines “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” to mean: any medically diagnosed condition that so complicates the pregnancy of the woman as to directly or indirectly cause the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. A medically diagnosed condition that constitutes a “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” includes preeclampsia, inevitable abortion, and premature rupture of the membranes, may include, but is not limited to, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and does not include a condition related to the woman’s mental health.

Critics claim that this language isn’t clear enough to make physicians feel comfortable making that call for a 10-year-old rape victim. The question should be, why? Which doctor in Ohio refused to do the procedure on the child, and for what reason? Is it not common sense that an underdeveloped child could have serious physical difficulty carrying a child to term? The law allows a physician to make that call, and no one on the Republican side of the aisle has said they would gainsay that decision. If this terrible story has taught us anything, it’s that Democrats and Republicans all agree that this child is the exception to any abortion restrictions. 

It also taught us that the Indianapolis Star published a story with a political agenda, used a real 10-year-old rape victim as a political football, and didn’t bother to get the facts right first. They didn’t even publish the law as it is written, which would have at least raised questions about abortionist and activist Dr. Caitlin Bernard’s claims.

This story is a perfect example of media bias and lazy or corrupt journalism. The Indy Star had a narrative to push and pushed it without care for the victim, the facts, or the fallout.

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