U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

IndyStar reporter subpoenaed, testifies in high-profile abortion case

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 17, 2023

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue
REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Protesters demonstrate at the Indiana Statehouse following the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022. IndyStar reporter Shari Rudavsky was compelled to testify in May 2023 after reporting on a 10-year-old who received an abortion in the state.

— REUTERS/Cheney Orr
May 17, 2023

Indianapolis Star reporter Shari Rudavsky was compelled to testify on May 17, 2023, in connection with an investigation of an Indiana physician who provided a minor with an abortion in the days following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Rudavsky was reporting on a 2022 reproductive rights protest when she reportedly overheard OB-GYN Caitlin Bernard telling the story of a 10-year-old, pregnant sexual assault survivor who was seeking an abortion in Indiana days after Ohio implemented a six-week abortion ban. Bernard confirmed the story to Rudavsky, whose subsequent article drew national attention to the case.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita subsequently launched an investigation into allegations that Bernard had violated patient privacy laws and had failed to immediately alert authorities that the child had been raped. The Department of Health confirmed to the IndyStar that Bernard had reported the abuse to the state, and her employer, Indiana University Health, said in a statement that she had not violated patient privacy.

Rokita subpoenaed Rudavsky in early 2023, initially ordering her to appear for a deposition before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board on April 20, according to court filings.

Rudavsky confirmed that she was ultimately deposed on May 17, but she declined to comment further, directing inquiries to an attorney representing the newspaper.

In her deposition, Rudavsky was not only asked about her communications with Bernard but also about when she became interested in journalism, her work for a student newspaper and her role as a health and medicine reporter for the Star.

Gannett attorney Tom Curley also declined to comment when reached by email.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].