A one-source story a few 10-year-old and an abortion goes viral


“This isn’t some imagined horror. It’s already occurring. Simply final week, it was reported {that a} 10-year-old woman was a rape sufferer — 10 years previous — and she or he was pressured to should journey out of state to Indiana to hunt to terminate the being pregnant and perhaps save her life.”

— President Biden, remarks throughout signing of govt order on abortion entry, July 8

Replace: An arrest has been made on this case, offering further affirmation. Extra particulars beneath.

That is the account of a one-source story that rapidly went viral around the globe — and into the speaking factors of the president.

The Supreme Court docket’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had assured a proper to abortion, has led plenty of states to rapidly impose new legal guidelines to limit or restrict abortions. Ohio was one of many first, imposing a ban on abortions after six weeks of being pregnant, with no exceptions for rape and incest.

On July 1, the Indianapolis Star, also referred to as the IndyStar, revealed an article, written by the newspaper’s medical author, about how girls in search of abortions had begun touring from Ohio to Indiana, the place much less restrictive abortion legal guidelines have been nonetheless in place. “Sufferers head to Indiana for abortion providers as different states prohibit care,” the article was headlined.

That was a benign headline. However it was the anecdotal starting that caught the eye of different information organizations. The article mentioned that three days after the June 24 court docket ruling, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, Caitlin Bernard, who performs abortions, obtained a name from “a baby abuse physician” in Ohio who had a 10-year-old affected person who was six weeks and three days pregnant. Unable to acquire an abortion in Ohio, “the woman quickly was on her option to Indiana to Bernard’s care,” the Star reported.

The one supply cited for the anecdote was Bernard. She’s on the document, however there is no such thing as a indication that the newspaper made different makes an attempt to substantiate her account. The story’s lead reporter, Shari Rudavsky, didn’t reply to a question asking whether or not further sourcing was obtained. A Gannett spokeswoman offered a remark from Bro Krift, the newspaper’s govt editor: “The information and sourcing about folks crossing state traces into Indiana, together with the 10-year-old woman, for abortions are clear. We’ve no further remark at the moment.”

The story rapidly caught hearth, changing into a headline in newspapers around the globe. Information organizations more and more “mixture” — or repackage — reporting from elsewhere if it seems of curiosity to readers. So Bernard remained the one supply — and different information organizations didn’t observe as much as affirm her account.

  • The Day by day Mail, July 1: “Youngster abuse sufferer, 10, who was six weeks pregnant is pressured to journey from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion after house state outlaws it below Roe v Wade ruling.”
  • The Guardian, July 3: “10-year-old rape sufferer pressured to journey from Ohio to Indiana for abortion.”
  • The Jerusalem Submit, July 3: “10-year-old rape sufferer denied abortion in Ohio”
  • Bangladesh Weekly, July 3: “US: 10-year-old Ohio woman denied abortion after abortion ruling”

On CNN’s Sunday interview present on July 3, South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem was pressed in regards to the story. Noem, a Republican who opposes abortion rights, mentioned the story was “tragic” and the main target must be on the rapist. “As a lot as we are able to discuss what we are able to do for that little woman, I believe we additionally have to be addressing these sick people that do that to our kids,” she mentioned.

Beneath Ohio legislation, a doctor, as a mandated reporter below Ohio Revised Code 2151.421, could be required to report any case of recognized or suspected bodily, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect of a kid to their native little one welfare or legislation enforcement company. So Bernard’s colleague would have needed to make such a report back to legislation enforcement on the identical time she or he contacted Bernard. Presumably then a legal case would have been opened.

Bernard declined to establish to the Reality Checker her colleague or town the place the kid was situated. “Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry, however I don’t have any data to share,” she mentioned in an electronic mail.

Dan Tierney, press secretary for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), mentioned the governor’s workplace was unaware of any particular case however he mentioned below the state’s decentralized system, information could be held at an area degree. Thus, he mentioned, it might be laborious to substantiate a report with out figuring out the native jurisdiction to slim the search. He added: “The rape of a ten-year-old actually could be newsworthy.”

As a spot test, we contacted little one providers companies in a few of Ohio’s most populous cities, together with Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo. Not one of the officers we reached have been conscious of such a case of their areas.

DeWine, requested Wednesday in regards to the report, referred to as it a tragedy and mentioned the physician in query presumably reported it to legislation enforcement. “We’ve on the market, clearly, a rapist,” he instructed reporters. “We’ve somebody who’s harmful and we have now somebody who must be picked up and locked up without end.”

An abortion of a 10-year-old is fairly uncommon. The Columbus Dispatch reported that in 2020, 52 folks below the age of 15 obtained an abortion in Ohio.

This can be a very troublesome story to test. Bernard is on the document, however acquiring paperwork or different affirmation is all however unimaginable with out particulars that may establish the locality the place the rape occurred.

With information stories across the globe and now a presidential imprimatur, nonetheless, the story has acquired the standing of a “reality” regardless of its provenance. If a rapist is ever charged, the very fact lastly would have extra strong grounding.

Replace, July 13: The Columbus Dispatch reported {that a} 27-year-old Columbus man had been charged with impregnating a 10-year-old Ohio woman who had traveled to Indianapolis for an abortion on June 30. Gershon Fuentes was arrested July 13 “after police say he confessed to raping the kid on at the very least two events,” the newspaper reported “He’s since been charged with rape, a felony of the primary diploma in Ohio.”

A police detective testified that “Columbus police have been made conscious of the woman’s being pregnant by means of a referral by Franklin County Kids Providers that was made by her mom on June 22,” the Dispatch mentioned. Whereas reporting this story, the Reality Checker had contacted the Franklin County company to ask if such a referral had been made. In contrast to comparable Ohio county companies we contacted, Franklin County officers didn’t provide a response.

The detective additionally testified that “DNA from the clinic in Indianapolis is being examined in opposition to samples from Fuentes, in addition to the kid’s siblings, to substantiate his paternity.”

That is an fascinating instance of the restrictions that journalists face in corroborating such a story with out proof confirmed by legislation enforcement. Ought to Bernard have disclosed the case earlier than the police charged a suspect? Ought to the IndyStar have revealed her account with out a second supply? Ought to different information organizations have repeated the story with out doing their very own reporting? These are questions past the purview of the Reality Checker, however worthwhile for readers and media pundits to contemplate.

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