COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is questioning the legitimacy of a recent report that a 10-year-old child abuse victim had to travel to Indiana for an abortion.
He made the claim on FOX News -- also saying the story, which originated from an Indiana newspaper, is being used as a political weapon.
On July 8, President Biden made remarks referencing the case, a case 10TV has not been able to independently confirm.
In Ohio, this type of child abuse is required by law to be reported to a child services agency however in this case there’s no indication that happened.
And, the governor's office confirms state agencies that assist local children's services can neither confirm nor deny an investigation unless a case leads to prosecution, which the case hasn't.
The story, and now a public dispute over its legitimacy, is raising more questions about the exceptions that are allowed under the state's Heartbeat Law.
Attorney General Dave Yost appeared on Jesse Waters Primetime on FOX news. That’s where he made the claim the 10-year-old could have had an abortion in Ohio.
"This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her, it breaks my heart to think about it, she did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment,” Yost said.
Yost cited the exceptions to the state's heartbeat law. We reached out to his office for further clarification and did not hear back.
The governor's office provided a statement to 10TV that reads in part, "Governor DeWine strongly calls on local authorities to investigate this case and bring any alleged perpetrators to justice swiftly." The full statement is available at the end of this article.
In response to Yost's comments, Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters points to an exception that is not included under Ohio's newly enforced Heartbeat Law.
"Women across our state, even if they are victims of incest or rape or often before they know they're pregnant, do not have access to critical health care,” Walters said.
Let's get into the details of the language of the law and take a closer look at the exceptions. There are two.
One – if a physician determines there is no fetal heartbeat, even after that 6-week mark.
Two – if a physician determines the pregnant woman faces "serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."
In other words, if the woman has a condition like pre-eclampsia or premature rupture of membranes, and the pregnancy could threaten her life.
Conditions related to the mother's mental health are not included.
Federal abortion guidance was released Monday. Federal law pre-empts state law.
It's worth noting -- the exceptions under Ohio's Heartbeat Law are in line with the federal guidance to protect the health and life of the pregnant person.
Under the Heartbeat Law, it's a fifth-degree felony for anyone who is found guilty of performing an abortion without these exceptions.
Full statement from the office of Governor Mike DeWine on the report of a 10-year-old who traveled out of state for an abortion:
“As a father and grandfather, Governor DeWine has expressed his horror surrounding the media reports of the rape of an Ohio girl from the Indianapolis Star. As a former prosecutor, Governor DeWine strongly calls on local authorities to investigate this case and bring any alleged perpetrators to justice swiftly. Any rapist who preys upon children as alleged should spend the rest of his life in prison.
With respect to both law enforcement and children’s services, Ohio is a decentralized, local government state, and these local agencies have authority independent of a state regulatory agency. Ohio has laws mandating doctors and other professionals to report child abuse and other crimes against children to a local county children’s services agency. These reports are generally not public while an investigation is ongoing prior to an indictment. As such, state agencies that assist local children’s service agencies can neither confirm nor deny an investigation unless that case leads to prosecution.
Ohio law for cases involving minors also have a large amount of privacy protection built into them. As a result, law enforcement cases such as the type of which you inquire generally do not become public prior to indictment or the arrest of an alleged assailant.
Governor DeWine agrees that it is in the public interest that Ohio authorities fully investigate these allegations. In Ohio, local law enforcement and children’s service agencies are those agencies with that authority. Governor DeWine urges local authorities with information on this and similar cases to investigate, and, if evidence supports, prosecute, these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”