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Just two weeks after the United States (US) Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, a news report in Indianapolis Star (IS), broke the story of how a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio travelled to the neighbouring state to terminate her pregnancy.
US President Joe Biden too used the case to highlight the repercussions of the apex court's decision on the overturning of the nationwide right to abortion – even as Ohio's attorney general slammed IS for reporting the story. Anti-abortion activists cast doubts on whether the incident truly happened – which was based on an obstetrician's account.
On 13 July, Gerson Fuentes, a 27-year-old Ohio man was arrested and charged with raping the minor girl. An investigating officer testified at the hearing that Fuentes had confessed to raping the girl at least twice, reported The Guardian.
How Indianapolis Star Reported the Story
On 1 July, IS broke the story with a single source – Dr Caitlin Bernard. The story did not mention who the patient was, or how they went about verifying the details – in interest of protecting the identity of the survivor.
The survivor was "six weeks and three days pregnant," Bernard told IS.
"It's hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care," the doctor added.
Ohio's Abortion Laws
The survivor was forced to travel to Indiana to get an abortion because she was three days past Ohio’s six-week limit, which does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
In Indiana, however, abortion after six weeks remains legal for now – though newer restrictions are expected to come into force later this month in the Republican-controlled state as well.
Both Indiana and Ohio are among the 26 US states that either have severely restricted or are expected to do so in the coming weeks and months – in connection with Ohio.
The Politics Around 10-Year-Old's Rape
The news and the 10-year-old's ordeal became a point of contention on both social media and prime-time news.
"Ten years old — 10 years old! — raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, was forced to travel to another state," US President Joe Biden had said at the White House on 8 July.
Republican Ohio attorney general, Dave Yost, told the USA Today Network Ohio bureau on Tuesday that the details were “more likely than not, a fabrication” because there had been no arrest and no evidence uncovered, Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch reported.
“My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child. I am grateful for the diligent work of the Columbus police department in securing a confession and getting a rapist off the street,” Yost said, in a statement, after the arrest in the case.
(With inputs from The Guardian.)
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