Fake News? Viral ‘Pregnant 10-Year-Old Rape Victim’ Abortion Horror Story Deserves a Deeper Look

Many of you probably saw #Shes10 trending on social media a few days ago when a story that originally was published in the Indianapolis Star went super-viral. The report featured Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an abortion doctor in Indiana who claimed that a 10-year-old rape victim who was pregnant had to travel across state lines from Ohio to Indiana to get an abortion. This was the reported tale that went hyper-viral and international in minutes.

From this short blurb, international outlets and national outlets picked up the story and created a tornado of outrage. I created a live thread on Twitter as I investigated this story. It struck me as poorly sourced and lacking much information that would make it credible. There were far too many red flags for me to accept it at face value as real news. I began to research the elements of the story and follow its journey from one website to the rest of the world. Read the whole thread when you have time.

What I found left more questions than answers. I’ve reported many “fake news” narratives before, and this story has many of the elements of a hoax like the Jussie Smollett tale that was repeated by news sources across the world without vetting any of the actor’s claims. Big Media is either lazy or evil (or maybe both), but when it comes to getting viral clicks they appear not to care about fact-checking. Rush Limbaugh used to call this the “drive-by media,” comparing them to gangsters who would spray bullets hitting defenseless targets without stopping to witness the aftermath and immediately moving on to the next crime.

It’s no secret that the overturning of Roe v. Wade has triggered emotional upset on the left. This is the perfect time for the “drive-bys” to team up with their favorite activists and attack and stir the volatility and create more division and unrest (which seems to be their favorite activity. Remember the Covington boys?). Jim Treacher wrote about the left’s willingness to lie to the public to achieve their ends.

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So, this whole Covington Catholic hoax was started by someone claiming to be an American, who may or may not really be an American. And our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters all fell for the hoax, because it confirmed their biases. They bought into a shallow lie and were easily manipulated because they wanted to believe it.

And this time, the media didn’t bother to check the details either. Without any further verification, outlet after outlet picked up this vague report about an abused 10-year-old by the Indianapolis Star and repeated it across the world. I’ve made a spreadsheet detailing how this story spread and how fast.

RELATED: This Is How We Lose: Ohio Gov on Defense Over Dubious Tale of 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Who Fled to Indiana for Abortion

The report was immediately used as a weapon to beat pro-life Republican politicians into uncomfortable sound bites for political points. First was Kristi Noem.

Then they went after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. And in typical Republican fashion, DeWine didn’t fight back in any real way and it’s too bad because this story could be blown to bits—OR verified and a rapist could be caught with a simple police investigation. But justice for raped and abused children isn’t what pro-abortion activists or their pals in the rabid corporate media care about. What they want is more abortions, and they don’t care how many abused children have to be used as political pawns to get them.

There are major problems and inconsistencies with this story that no one in Big Media noticed or cared about. First, where is the police report or the social services investigation into the rape of the child? Who will be held accountable for child rape and why isn’t that an issue in any of the reporting? I was unable to find any verified police investigation connected to this story. Another troubling fact is the source of this claim is one person: Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an abortionist and activist who is all over the media advocating for more abortions and unrestricted abortions.

A few days before the 10-year-old rape victim story went viral, Bernard was talking to anyone she could in the media about her favorite “doomsday” scenarios that she said would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned. “I just know how hard it’s going to be, you know, very soon,” she said just days before she claimed a 10-year-old rape victim needed her help to get across state lines for an abortion.

Bernard also sued the state of Indiana in 2019 when they passed a law to ban 2nd-trimester “dismemberment” abortions. Bernard won her request for an injunction and she was allowed to continue performing the gruesome procedure and profit from them. Just last week, the attorney general of Indiana, Todd Rokita, announced,

“Following the landmark Dobbs decision, we eagerly anticipate clearer paths for Indiana’s commonsense laws protecting unborn children and their mothers,” Attorney General Todd Rokita said. “We are grateful for the new day that has dawned, and we will remain steadfast in our fight for life.”

This issue — part of Kristina Box, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Health, et al., v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. — now has been remanded back to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

It was Bernard’s suit that is now dead in the water. Might that devastating loss that threatens her very livelihood in Indiana motivate her to spread a story about a fictional 10-year-old in a dire situation that makes people afraid that child rape victims are in danger because of abortion restrictions that are right now being implemented by the Indiana legislature? If you’ve been in this game as long as I have, you’ve seen gamesmanship like this before and it’s utterly unsurprising and totally predictable. And the lack of response to press inquiries from the people who created this narrative leads me to doubt the veracity of the facts presented.

I find it troubling that the reporters at the Indianapolis Star, Shari Rudavsky and Rachel Fradette, didn’t bother to disclose Bernard’s obvious conflicts of interest that shed doubt on her credibility. They also didn’t appear to ask Bernard if she— a mandated reporter—reported this heinous crime of child abuse to the authorities. I tried to contact both authors and ask them if they verified any of this information with Bernard. Neither responded.

It’s possible that Bernard did file a report with authorities, but PJ Media reached out to her too and she has not responded to confirm or deny it.

Bernard did, however, find time to go on television and slyly refer to the 10-year-old vaguely while receiving cover from Lawrence O’Donnell, who assured her he wouldn’t ask any detailed questions. Whatever this is, it’s not journalism.

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But Bernard is not taking calls from any reporters asking for verification of her claims. Interestingly, Snopes has gotten so many requests about this story that they tried to reach out to Bernard too and were also unsuccessful. But Bernard’s reluctance to speak to the media now is very odd. This woman is constantly doing interviews. She seems to love it, except when a couple of us ask hard questions like, “Is this true? Where’re your receipts?” She’s very happy to talk to friendly reporters who just take everything she says as gospel. But doubters get no reply.

I also reached out to the editor of the Indianapolis Star, Bro Krift, and asked him to comment on the kind of vetting that was done before the original story was printed.

Dear Mr. Krift,
I’m investigating the claim that the Indianapolis Star made when it reported that a 10 year old was forced to go from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion. In this article here, your writers Shari Rudavsky and Rachel Fradette repeated claims that Dr. Caitlyn Bernard told them.

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/health/2022/07/01/indiana-abortion-law-roe-v-wade-overturned-travel/7779936001/

What kind of vetting was done on these claims? I have been unable to find any criminal investigation that you would expect from the rape of a ten-year-old in Ohio. Also, every publication that has tried to ask follow-up questions to Dr. Bernard has been unable to reach her. Did your reporters find out if the child is real? Did they confirm the details of the claim? They also failed to report that Bernard is an abortion activist at war with the state of Indiana and has sued the state to stop abortion regulations. Bernard is a well-known activist who appears to be in contact with many media outlets including the NYT and many Indiana outlets over the years on this very topic. This would seem to be important information.

Did your reporters find out if Bernard, a mandated reporter, contacted authorities to investigate the abuse of the minor or did she just hand her back to her possible rapist? These are all questions reporters should have asked but yours didn’t report anything about any of it other than the abortion angle. Did they question Bernard’s motives at all or did they just repeat the things she told them? How did they get Bernard’s information? Did she reach out to them? Was it a press release?

Also, Snopes attempted to confirm this story and was unable to. Did the Indy Star print fake news? Can you confirm that this news article is in fact real?

https://web.archive.org/web/20220706011116/https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/07/05/abortion-10-year-old-rape-victim-ohio/

I’m working under deadline and would appreciate a response as soon as possible.

Krift did not respond to multiple attempts to get some verification that this story was vetted. The sound of his silence is deafening. I am sure that if managing editor Paula Bolyard got a request like this from another outlet she would respond with receipts (that we always keep). The unprofessionalism of the Indianapolis Star’s editor is astounding.

After marinating for a week in the public psyche causing stress and fear, right on cue protests spurred on by #Shes10 broke out just in time to pressure the Indiana representatives who are debating abortion restrictions. The protestors carried signs that said “no forced birth” and “protect rape victims.” None of them are protesting to protect rape victims with harsh punishments for rapists, however. The only protection anyone there wants for rape victims is abortion.

Good journalism requires that there is more than one source for a story. It requires police reports, court documents, abuse reports, and other documentation that would back up the claim that a source is making. Otherwise, the allegations are unsourced hearsay. If it won’t stand up in court, it shouldn’t make it in a news article. Rumor and innuendo is for Entertainment Tonight, not serious news organizations. But this story is nothing but rumor and unverified claims by an activist abortionist with an agenda to keep abortion legal in the biggest fight of her life. Expect outrageous shenanigans not only from her but others like her in every state where there is a push to restrict abortion.

Whether the story is true or not, the damage has been done. The horror tale was intentionally spread to the four corners of the world so quickly, no one had the time to verify any of it—and real investigations take time. My investigative thread on Twitter got some good traffic, but it’s nothing compared to the reach of the publications that spread the unverified claims like wildfire. And that’s the goal of fake news—it’s a hit and run. The victims are the public who are left in a bloody mess of confusion, panic, and anger and who then fight one another instead of the gangsters who committed the assault.

I can’t confirm that this particular story is fake news, mostly because no one involved in it is willing to share the details that could verify it. But I can say with confidence that it has a lot of holes and red flags and deserves to be viewed with extreme skepticism.

PJ Media still has some press inquiries out to various government agencies that might be able to shed some light on this story, and if we learn anything new we will publish an update. Until then, stay vigilant and question everything.

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