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Dr. Caitlin Bernard blocked from state award by governor's office

Caitlin Bernard is a White woman with long, brown balayage hair.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Dr. Caitlin Bernard was reprimanded by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board for discussing a 10-year-old patient with the media, though national experts don't agree that she violated privacy laws.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said his office followed the correct process when it blocked Dr. Caitlin Bernard from receiving a state award given to Indiana women who make contributions to their community, state and country.

The Indianapolis Star first reported that Bernard had been recommended to receive a Torchbearer Award before the governor’s office stepped in.

Bernard has been in the spotlight for over a year, since she provided abortion care to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio and then discussed that case with the IndyStar. Targeted by Attorney General Todd Rokita, Bernard was eventually reprimanded by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana earlier this year.

Holcomb said that case before the licensing board is why she was taken off a list of recommended recipients for the Torchbearer Award.

“It’s consistent with the process that if an applicant is involved with a legal proceeding, then maybe it’s not the appropriate time for that individual," Holcomb said. "But there may be a time in the future.”

Nominees for the award are chosen by a panel of past recipients. The governor’s office has traditionally cleared the list of final nominees, though award judges told the IndyStar they were only told the nominees needed to pass a background check.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.