With varying degrees of subtlety, some Republicans in Ohio are pushing back against the story that a 10-year-old rape victim traveled to Indiana earlier this month to get an abortion.
The girl had to make the trip, according to the report, due to 2019 restrictions signed by Governor Mike DeWine that went into effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on June 24.
However, Ohio’s own abortion statistics and other reports show that it is concerning that a 10-year-old child is being impregnated in Buckeye State. In the meantime, some of the doubts raised are a little less plausible.
The Ohio/Indiana Affair
On July 6, the Indianapolis Star published a explosive allegation.
Caitlin Bernard, an OB-GYN from Indianapolis, said she had received a call two days earlier from a colleague in Ohio saying that a 10-year-old pregnant child was just over the limit. six weeks for Ohio abortions and needed help. The girl was soon on her way to Indianapolis, according to the story.
Ten-year-olds who become pregnant are by definition rape victims, but Ohio’s abortion law does not make exceptions for rape and incest.
DeWine and his spokesperson responded to the story ignoring questions about whether children should be forced to have the babies of their rapists. Instead, they pointed out that everything they knew about the case came from media reports.
Then DeWine’s allies reached out to members of the press, asking how sure they were that the 10-year-old pregnant girl’s case had even happened. The Washington Postthe conservative daily call and other media published articles saying the case had not been verified.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who supports new abortion restrictions, went on Fox News Monday to remove new doubts. He said he was working closely with law enforcement authorities and had “not heard of” the case.
“Perhaps even more telling,” he told host Jesse Watters, “is that my office runs the state crime lab. In a case like this, you’re going to having a rape kit, you’re going to have biological evidence and you’re going to be looking for a DNA analysis… There’s no request for a case analysis that looks like that.
However, this argument might not be as convincing as the Attorney General says.
The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence emphasizes that such evidence can only be collected shortly after an attack. And, he adds, the younger the victim, the narrower the window.
“The collection of evidence (a ‘rape kit’) is a voluntary part of the sexual assault review,” the group’s website states. “Evidence collection is available up to 96 hours (4 days) after an assault for patients 16 years of age or older, and up to 72 hours (3 days) after the assault for patients 15 years of age and younger . ”
Meanwhile, the state’s own playbook says children might not tell their stories of abuse and rape until long after the incidents have happened. This can cause adults to deny that they happened at all, he adds.
“Frequently, little or no physical evidence can be found to corroborate the child’s story because a) physical force is generally not used when children are sexually abused and b) children are often brought in for an evaluation sexual abuse days or months after the event, whereby injuries sustained as a result of the abusive event will be fully or partially healed,” the Ohio Department of Health said. Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Protocol said. “It reinforces the family’s denial.”
The document adds that it is up to health care providers to determine whether it is likely to be productive or harmful to subject a minor to a multi hour rape exam.
“When patients present to a hospital or clinic, it is the responsibility of the hospital or clinic to determine whether collection of trace evidence is indicated,” the state protocol reads.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of cases in which girls can get pregnant in Ohio – even some involving girls as young as 10 years old.
“In 2021, Child Advocacy Centers in Ohio saw 8,890 abuse cases (and) of those 6,717 sexual abuse cases ages 0-18,” reports the Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers . “In all cases, as needed, we work closely with law enforcement.”
Dozens of these children become pregnant.
In 2020, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 52 Girls Age 14 and Under Have Aborted in Ohio, according to the state Department of Health. Fortunately, that number is down from an apparent peak of 334 in 1998..
The health department was asked last week to provide an age breakdown of abortions ages 14 and under performed in Ohio, but so far has not responded.
There’s even evidence that in just one city – Columbus – it’s plausible that a 10-year-old child recently became pregnant. A review of the city’s police registry since March 15 found 59 reports of sexual assaults on girls 15 and younger that, according to available information, could have resulted in pregnancy.
The exact ages of these victims are not included in the log. But when the department’s Records Management Office checked those case numbers, at least one involved a 10-year-old victim, Sgt. said Joe Albert. He stressed, however, that this does not mean the victim is the same girl who allegedly traveled to Indiana for an abortion.
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