Morning news brief
Morning news brief
Indiana doctor is reprimanded for providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. The Texas attorney general faces possible impeachment. Turkey's presidential runoff election is Sunday.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
An Indiana doctor became part of the national debate over abortion. And now the state medical board has reprimanded her.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Dr. Caitlin Bernard went public about performing an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim who'd come to her from Ohio. Indiana authorities accused her of violating privacy rules, and she faced questions in a contentious hearing.
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UNIDENTIFIED LAWYER: Do you have a tattoo of a coat hanger that says trust women on your body?
ALICE MORICAL: Objection. This testimony would be immaterial and irrelevant for this proceeding.
MARTIN: The board fined Bernard, but it also said she may continue practicing.
INSKEEP: NPR's Sarah McCammon has been following this story. Sarah, good morning.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: How did Dr. Bernard end up before that board?
MCCAMMON: Well, you should know this proceeding came after months of criticism of Dr. Caitlin Bernard by Indiana's Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, and other prominent conservatives nationally. You know, she came to attention last July, just days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, when Dr. Bernard told the Indianapolis Star about providing abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim who'd traveled to her state from Ohio after a near-total abortion ban took effect there in Ohio. Now, Attorney General Rokita seized on that story, suggested Bernard hadn't properly reported the abortion under state law. That was proven false by documents the state released later. But after that effort fell apart, Rokita began investigating her and ultimately filed a complaint with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board. Now, Bernard told that board yesterday that her goal had been to inform the public about the real-world impact of abortion laws on her patients.
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CAITLIN BERNARD: I think it's important for people to know what patients will have to go through because of legislation that is being passed.
INSKEEP: OK. What was the case that she'd done something wrong?
MCCAMMON: So the state's lawyers argued that Bernard had acted inappropriately and with political motivations. They asked about her political beliefs, including that question we heard earlier about a tattoo. Corey Voight, who's with Rokita's office, the attorney general, accused Bernard of using her patient's story to, quote, "further her own agenda."
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CORY VOIGHT: This case is about a decision that Dr. Bernard made to speak about her patient to a reporter for the largest newspaper in Indiana.
MCCAMMON: Now, the attorney general has claimed, one, that Bernard violated patient privacy laws and, two, that she failed to properly report the rape to Indiana authorities.
INSKEEP: Well, if the attorney general was going to accuse her of a political agenda, did anyone accuse the state of furthering their political agenda here?
MCCAMMON: Right. Well, Steve, certainly Bernard's supporters have accused the attorney general of politically motivated attacks from the beginning. They've noted that this is, you know, a very unusual process. But her lawyers yesterday largely stuck to the facts. They pointed out that she reported the rape to hospital social workers in Indiana in line with standard protocol, as she does in similar cases involving patients who are minors. And the licensing board sided with Bernard on that one, but a majority of members said they thought she gave too many details about the patient to the press. She did point out that her employer, the University of Indiana Health System, did its own review last year and found that she had complied with patient privacy laws.
INSKEEP: If the board says she did something wrong, why can she continue practicing in Indiana?
MCCAMMON: Well, they talked about going a step further than this and putting her on probation. But, you know, Steve, they discussed the fact that Bernard is one of a very small number of OB-GYNs in Indiana who accept Medicaid in a state where more than a third of women who give birth rely on Medicaid. And the board ultimately said they can't afford to lose a doctor like Caitlin Bernard.
INSKEEP: NPR's Sarah McCammon with an update on a story in my home state. Sarah, thanks so much.
MCCAMMON: Thank you. Steve.
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INSKEEP: The attorney general of Texas faces possible impeachment.
MARTIN: Ken Paxton is a Republican, but so is the majority of the committee that says he abused his power. Investigators gave that legislative committee a list of alleged illegal acts, including bribery, obstruction of justice and abuse of public trust. Paxton has denied all the allegations. He's repeatedly drawn national attention, as in 2020 when he joined the effort to overturn the presidential election. But now - it's only now that he is losing some of his party's support.
INSKEEP: The Texas Newsroom's Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is on the line from Austin. Hey there, Sergio.
SERGIO MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN, BYLINE: Good morning.
INSKEEP: As Michel noted, hasn't Paxton been an attention-grabbing figure for many years?
MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: He has. Paxton first won the AG's office about a decade ago and has been reelected twice since then. He's a conservative, and he's very popular with Republican voters here in Texas and a big supporter of former President Donald Trump. Now, he's also controversial inside and outside of the Republican Party. That's in part because he's made a name by being strict on issues like voter fraud and for fighting with the Obama and Biden administrations over immigration, federal spending and medication abortion. But Paxton might be best known for this fact. He was indicted on securities fraud about eight years ago and has yet to face a trial. He's also facing a federal investigation over alleged abuse of his office.
INSKEEP: OK. But his supporters stuck with him through all of that. Why are some in his party turning against him now?
MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: Well, the whole reason for this House investigation, Steve, is because Paxton's office asked the Texas legislature for $3.3 million for a settlement he's on the hook for. That money would go to four of his former employees who were fired in 2020 after making accusations about Paxton's alleged misdeeds related to a man named Nate Paul. Nate Paul is an Austin real estate investor and a political donor to Paxton. He was being investigated by the FBI. And according to the House probe, Paxton tried to use his office to intervene and even fight federal law enforcement. The legislature, however, doesn't want to pay for that settlement, so here we are. Now, the list of allegations against Paxton is very long. In fact, there are 20 articles of impeachment. They include constitutional bribery, abuse of official capacity. But like you said earlier, Paxton denies any wrongdoing. And he's even accused the speaker of the Texas House, who is also a Republican, of trying to push him out of office.
INSKEEP: Well, what are the next steps after this committee has taken its action?
MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: So now the articles of impeachment move to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber. It would only require a simple majority to impeach him. And as it was mentioned earlier, that panel is led by Republicans. So this isn't necessarily a partisan vote. And we already know multiple Republicans will vote for this resolution. They will vote to impeach. Now, we still don't know when that will happen, but the final day of the legislative session is Monday. So if it doesn't happen by then, lawmakers will have to return to Austin. If the House votes to impeach him, Paxton will be suspended from his duties while the state Senate gets a trial prepared and decides whether to convict him. And the Texas Senate does indeed have the power to remove an attorney general from office. In fact, his wife, Angela Paxton, is one of the senators who would have to vote.
INSKEEP: Wow. And just to be clear on the process here, the Texas legislature only meets every couple of years. But if there's an impeachment, I think you're telling me they'd come back. It'd be a special session. They would do it this summer.
MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: If they don't vote before Monday, they would have to come back.
INSKEEP: OK. That's the Texas Newsroom's Sergio Martínez-Beltrán. Thanks so much.
MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: Thanks for having me.
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INSKEEP: This weekend, Turkish voters will cast their ballots in the second round of a presidential election.
MARTIN: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to win a clear majority in the first round, so he faces a runoff against just one challenger.
INSKEEP: And NPR's Peter Kenyon is following this story in one of the most important countries in its region. Hey there, Peter.
PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: So when you talk with voters, do you get an idea that people think they could change their president that they've had for the last two decades, the leader they've had the last two decades?
KENYON: At the moment, the trend seems to be retaining the president they've had for the last two decades. Many of the people I've spoken with say they believe, unless there's some dramatic change in the vote on Sunday, they do expect Erdogan to win another five years in office. Even strong supporters of the challenger, veteran politician Kemal Kilicdaroglu, say they just don't think two weeks is enough time to make up the difference.
INSKEEP: OK. But there have been so many stories about frustration with Erdogan, about the dismay of the opposition, about protests surrounding the response to an earthquake. How would he be in position to hold on to power?
KENYON: Well, it is remarkable. I mean, and then look at the currency. The lira has plunged to another record low. It's now 20 to the U.S. dollar. When I first started reporting from here, it was, like, 1 1/2 to the dollar.
KENYON: So it's really in bad shape. Families say they can barely pay for basics. Anything else is beyond reach. I spoke with an analyst, Mustafa Akyol. He's a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He said Erdogan has managed to redirect attention away from this terrible economy by focusing on himself, adopting the mantle of a religiously devout leader, steering this majority-Muslim nation through difficult times. Akyol says surprisingly to some, that message has really resonated with voters.
MUSTAFA AKYOL: It's not the economy here. It's identity politics and culture war. All good, pious conservative Muslims should vote for him because he's their savior. He's reviving the glory of the Ottoman Empire. He's making Turkey great and Muslim again. He has created a huge propaganda machine which is pumping this narrative every day to Turkish society through media, through soap operas, on TVs.
KENYON: Now, after the first round, as I checked in with voters, the comments I heard most frequently reflected this sharp disappointment with Turkish politics in general, plus a lot of worries for how long they can make ends meet. But there also seems to be a base of belief - maybe it's just a hope - that Erdogan is the one to turn things around, despite his unorthodox economic policies that some are blaming for the soaring inflation we see now.
INSKEEP: OK, so we've got the economy. We've got these cultural issues or culture war issues. What else is on voters' minds?
KENYON: Well, in a word, immigration - a lot of anger over that in the Turkish Republic. You might remember, over a decade ago, it was Erdogan's government who began welcoming Syrians and other migrants fleeing either conflict or economic hard times at home. Europe had shut its doors. They were paying Turkey to keep the migrants. Now, as Turkish families struggle, calls for the migrants to be sent home have been growing. And both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu have been listening. Erdogan says a million are going home, and Kilicdaroglu says similar.
INSKEEP: When do the results come in?
KENYON: Well, the polls are open all day Sunday. They close at 5 p.m. Istanbul time. And we should be getting unofficial results a few or several hours later.
INSKEEP: Amazing reflection of politics in Turkey and around the world. Peter, thanks so much.
KENYON: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon in Istanbul.
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