Story of 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Falls Apart
An anecdote about a 10-year-old girl being raped, which President Joe Biden forcefully cited to promote abortion-on-demand, appears to be a myth, according to the highest legal authority in the state where the assault supposedly happened.
On July 1, The Indianapolis Star published the claim of a young rape victim crossing state lines into Indiana after Ohio’s trigger law took effect. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis-based abortionist, claimed a doctor who worked with child abuse victims contacted her on June 27 — the first business day after the Dobbs decision — because Ohio’s newly enacted pro-life protections safeguarded unborn children from the moment a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at approximately six weeks. The 10-year-old rape victim was reportedly six weeks and three days pregnant.
Biden recounted the story in an aggressive speech justifying his abortion-related executive order last Friday, July 8. The Democrats’ dark vision “isn’t some imagined horror. It’s already happening. … Ten years old!” Biden thundered, his eyes momentarily flashing with anger, his sentence clipped. “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!”
Imagination may be all there is to the story, said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) on Monday night. Ohio state law makes doctors who suspect child abuse mandatory reporters — but no state legal authority has a record of any such case; “not a whisper,” Yost said.
“My office runs the state crime lab,” Yost explained on Monday night. “Any case like this, you’re going to have a rape kit. You’re going to have biological evidence, and you would be looking for DNA analysis, which — we do most of the DNA analysis in Ohio. There is no request for analysis that looks anything like this.” If the originating doctor in Ohio exists and failed to report the child’s abuse to state authorities, “it is a crime.”
Yost added that the story of the 10-year-old fleeing the state seems doubly dubious, since Ohio’s heartbeat law would likely allow her to have an abortion. The amended legal code permits abortions after six weeks to save the mother’s life “or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” He noted, “This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her … did not have to leave Ohio.”
Several other Ohio authorities had already put the story under a cloud of suspicion. A spokesman for Governor Mike DeWine (R) said the office had no knowledge of any case like this one, and child protection agencies in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo reported they know nothing of the assault. When asked for specific details that would allow reporters to verify her story, Bernard told The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, “Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry, but I don’t have any information to share.”
Although the single-source story went viral in the legacy media, independent journalists cast substantial doubt on the story from the outset. A 10-year-old rape victim who crossed the state’s legal abortion limit the same day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade combined all the heart-tugging elements of a poorly written Hollywood drama, or every abortion activist’s cliché rolled into one.
Megan Fox of PJ Media began questioning Bernard’s uncorroborated statements on July 5. The left-of-center “fact-checking” website Snopes.com last said it has “not been able to independently corroborate the abortion claim.” Kessler observed it would be “all but impossible” to verify Bernard’s tale.
The story becomes increasingly murky, as Bernard has been a long-time abortion activist. She broke the purported story of the child rape while warning Indiana legislators against adopting laws like Ohio’s when they meet in special session beginning on July 25 to revise the state’s abortion statutes. “It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that [abortion],” she said. Polls show a majority (55%) of Americans support heartbeat bills, which generally limit abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy, and the youngest Americans have the highest level of support. Bernard authored a 2020 study stating “it is absolutely necessary to ensure access to in-clinic abortions as an ‘essential’ service” during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which closed churches and synagogues.
Bernard may be no stranger to controversies combining underage girls and abortion. In 2018, Indiana Right to Life accused Bernard and eight other abortionists of failing to comply with a state law mandating they report the pregnancies of young girls under the age of 16 to state authorities in a timely manner.
Her story of a 10-year-old rape victim may echo another Bernard — the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson. The former abortionist and head of the abortion industry lobbying group NARAL, who later became a pro-life advocate, admitted abortion activists invented stories to enhance public support for abortion before 1973. “We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S.,” confessed Nathanson. “The figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000,” which he estimated at many orders of magnitude higher than the true figure. Likewise, he admitted, NARAL “claimed to have data that supported a figure of five thousand” women dying every year from illegal, “back-alley” abortions. According to the CDC, the actual number of women dying from illegal abortion in 1972 was 39, only slightly higher than the 24 who died from legal abortions that year.
Dr. Nathanson added that one of the abortion lobby’s tactics “was to deny what we knew to be true: that an abortion kills an existing human being. We denied that fact in an effort to mislead the American public and the courts of this land.”
Keen-eyed observers now ask if the abortion industry is repeating its tried-and-true tactics on a new generation.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.