A 10-year-old Ohio girl is at the center of the worst of American society and politics. May she be allowed to recover from her ordeal in privacy and compassion.
The girl’s case gained national attention when Dr. Caitlin Bernard of Indianapolis told the Indianapolis Star the girl had been taken to Indiana for an abortion because Ohio law prevented her from getting one there. President Joe Biden talked about the girl’s trouble two weeks ago as he signed an executive order aimed at protecting access to abortion as states enacted near-total restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade.
Things changed Monday, July 11, when, during a Fox News segment, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he doubted the accuracy of that story, as he hadn’t heard anything from Ohio law enforcement about any reports or investigations into the case.
But law enforcement was working the case. Two days later, a 27-year-old suspect was in court facing charges of felony rape of a minor under age 13. He is being held in jail on a $2 million bond. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a detective testified that Columbus police learned about the girl’s pregnancy after her mother alerted Franklin County Children Services on June 22. The detective said the girl had an abortion in Indianapolis on June 30.
According to Fox News, the suspect is an illegal immigrant from Guatemala.
Yost told Fox News on Monday that the girl could have gotten an abortion in Ohio, but abortion rights advocates dispute that statement.
Without knowing more specifics of this case, it’s difficult if not impossible to say if the girl would have been allowed an abortion in West Virginia.
So far, members of the West Virginia Legislature have stayed out of this discussion, which is good. The problem is that if it happened in Ohio, it could happen in West Virginia. Then the abortion debate, which has been quiet here lately, could ignite again.
The Ohio girl’s identity remains secret, which is good, but given American society, it won’t be secret forever. Sooner or later it will get out. The best-case scenario is that it will occur when she is mature enough to talk about it publicly. The worst-case scenario is that she will be used now by people on both ends of American politics — abortion rights advocates on one side, border security people on the other. The important thing to remember is that a 10-year-old child is in the middle of it.
For better or worse, the Supreme Court took the abortion question out of the federal arena and handed it back to the states. The people of Ohio must now take the lead in determining how that will play out.