Reporting on 10-Year-Old’s Abortion Tale Without Committing Journalism

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

An abortion story “too good to verify” is surrounded by questions that the press will not dare to ask.

Most of the staff here at RedState are well familiar with the concept of stumbling over a story that is just so good that you need to hold back and pause a moment, lest you be caught up in a falsified quandary. I have become attuned that when something sounds great right from the start, if all the elements are a bit too pat and fit together too perfectly, that is the time to pump the brakes and look deeper into things.


This is a practice many in our current journalism landscape lack, by all appearances.

Currently, a story is making the media rounds, fueled by a speech from President Biden, concerning the plight of a 10-year-old girl who was pregnant and needed to travel to get an abortion in another state. Streiff covered the specifics on Friday. The pregnancy, as reported, took place in Ohio, but following the rollback of Roe vs. Wade, that state implemented its firm abortion standards, forcing a trip to Indiana for the procedure.

The story emanates from the Indianapolis Star and cites the abortion doctor from the area as giving these specifics about the child. The need for the travel was that the girl was said to have passed the 6-week abortion trigger date in Ohio. The story has been spread far, even hitting international sources, but there are many glaring issues with the story. One question almost all the news outlets have failed to ask – Is the story even true?

By Sunday, the story remains relatively unchanged, so all the specifics that are being shared come from that lone source, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist. As Megan Fox, from our sister site PJ Media, has covered, Dr. Bernard is a rather active proponent for abortions, with a lengthy resume of media appearances. In just the past month, Fox has compiled a number of media entries that involve the abortionist lobbying on behalf of the procedure’s legality.


Glenn Kessler, the fact-checker at the Washington Post, to his credit, has also checked into things and failed to find any more details on the story as well. Of course, this being Kessler, he has to hedge on things when it appears that there may be bad results reflecting on the country’s press corps.

With news reports around the globe and now a presidential imprimatur, however, the story has acquired the status of a “fact” no matter its provenance. If a rapist is ever charged, the fact finally would have more solid grounding.

The paper of record is notably coy about any follow-up questions. Kessler and others have reached out for additional information, but there has been little forthcoming. 

The story’s lead reporter, Shari Rudavsky, did not respond to a query asking whether additional sourcing was obtained. A Gannett spokeswoman provided a comment from Bro Krift, the newspaper’s executive editor: “The facts and sourcing about people crossing state lines into Indiana, including the 10-year-old girl, for abortions are clear. We have no additional comment at this time.”

This hardly instills confidence in the reporting. Had the paper been sitting on firm evidence or testimony, they would have listed off those instances freely. Instead, they couch their current piece with a boilerplate equivalent to the standard, we stand by our reporting. But in doing so, this means the entire report – and the global response – is hinged upon a single source, and one who is not forthcoming with details to support the claims. 

Supreme Court Abortion
AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

What Kessler stumbles over without actually declaring is that what he exposed was the ability of the press to expose any hard facts–and that this should have given reporters pause over the story. As it stands, there are a number of serious issues that need to be addressed.

Where are the Authorities? In a case where a ten-year-old is impregnated, there should have been contact made with law enforcement or child services somewhere in the timeline. No one is willing to state even when/where this potential crime took place. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office has no record of such an incident being reported. Even if there was a situation where this girl was impregnated by another minor, it is something that would be vetted in an official investigation; but no one has evidence any authorities are involved.

The Specifics The details of the pregnancy beg for more information, as there is a curious amount of convenient timing at play. We are told that Dr. Bernard received the call about this case just days after the SCOTUS abortion ruling and Ohio implementing its law. Then we hear that the child had missed Ohio’s 6-week deadline mark, again by just a few days. This is all rather specific dating on the pregnancy of a very young girl, who likely is unaware or at least imprecise about her cycles and the dates when effects took place. 


The Doctor The primary – nay, the solitary – source is a bit questionable. Not only is Dr. Bernard an activist of some measure, but her relationship with the press is a bit of a curiosity. She seems far more interested in getting this story out than she is in assisting the family in their effort. Look at how she was eager to rush to the press with this story, but once pressed for information, she became reticent. Dr. Bernard would not even give the city where the referencing doctor in Ohio was located, so a search of police reports could be conducted. Ohio law requires a child’s welfare in this type of case to be reported. It might be argued that there is the patient privacy at play, of course, but this seems negated by Bernard’s willingness to rush to the press in the first place. 

None of the above disproves this story, but to this point, it appears as a case of disproving a negative. With numerous major news outlets, and the President of the United States, repeating this story as “fact” – to use Kessler’s designation – it becomes revealing that we are not seeing more facts coming out as more outlets report on it. We still have a solitary source for the story, who has clammed up. We have the primary news source standing by its story but with no evidentiary support. And we have a governor in Mike DeWine accused of denying an abortion to a young girl, whom no one can determine exists. 


The press has raced out with this perfect abortion story, but as the mounting number of news outlets are repeating this, it speaks to everything that they are not ferreting any new information. A story too good to verify means it is not investigated. There may very well be news of a rape or other criminal occurrence with this pregnancy, but for now, we are looking at journalism taking a backseat to activism. That is more important for far too many in the media complex these days.


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