Historian Among Critics of Indiana U President's Weak Support for Ob-Gyn Faculty in Abortion ControversyHistorians in the News
tags: Indiana, abortion, Targeted Harassment
The rollback of abortion rights promises to bring more conflict to campuses as administrators who pledge to support students and staff collide with local laws that restrict access to reproductive health care. One such scenario is playing out at Indiana University.
This episode started with horrific news. A doctor in Indiana had performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim. The child had traveled from Ohio, where state law prohibited her from obtaining an abortion.
Soon the story was everywhere. President Biden cited it in a speech. Right-wing pundits and The Wall Street Journal editorial board said it was “too good to confirm,” until The Columbus Dispatch confirmed it by reporting an arrest had been made. Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, began an investigation of the doctor, claiming without evidence that she did not report the abortion to the state, though multiple newspapers have reported that she did.
Very little was publicly known about the doctor until last week when an article about her was published in The New York Times. She is Caitlin Bernard, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, a doctor trained in complex reproductive care, and an outspoken advocate for abortion access in Indiana.
The faculty petition that circulated Monday expressed disappointment that the IU administration had not specifically spoken out against the abortion bill and Rokita’s investigation of Bernard.
“We ask that you speak publicly against policies and practices, such as SB1, that deny all Hoosiers full reproductive rights and discriminate against half of the state’s population on the basis of sex,” the petition said. “And we ask that you just as publicly speak out against efforts to harass and intimidate faculty members, such as Dr. Bernard, who are bravely doing their jobs according to the professional norms for which any university must stand.”
The petition was created by Maria Bucur, a history professor at IU at Bloomington. Bucur teaches classes on gender, feminism, and sexual violence and said she worries that the administration will not firmly come to her defense when she speaks publicly about those issues.
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