Washington (AFP) – Ohio police have confirmed a 10-year-old rape victim crossed state lines to terminate her pregnancy, local media reported Wednesday, in a case drawing broad attention after the US Supreme Court overturned a federal right to abortion care.
The girl’s startling ordeal of allegedly being forced to travel to neighboring Indiana to end her pregnancy after Ohio’s trigger law came into effect was highlighted by President Joe Biden recently as he signed legislation aimed at helping women seeking abortions.
It was also questioned by conservative-leaning media outlets and Ohio’s attorney general, who cast doubt on the story’s veracity.
But Columbus, Ohio police detective Jeffrey Huhn testified in court early Wednesday that the unidentified girl underwent an abortion in Indianapolis on June 30, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
According to the paper, Huhn was testifying at the arraignment of a man arrested Tuesday by police who say he confessed to raping the child.
Huhn also told the court that DNA samples obtained from the Indiana clinic were being tested against the 27-year-old suspect, the Dispatch said.
Franklin County, Ohio court documents confirm that a Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of rape of a person under 13.
The disturbing story, first reported by the Indianapolis Star, has drawn international scrutiny and become a flash point in the deeply divisive issue of abortion rights in America.
Biden spoke of the Ohio rape victim during a July 8 ceremony where he signed reproductive right protections into law and urged Congress to codify Row v Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the nationwide right to abortion.
“Just last week it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim in Ohio — 10 years old — and she was forced to have to travel out of the state, to Indiana, to seek to terminate the pregnancy,” Biden said.
“Just imagine being that little girl.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, strongly suggested to Fox News late Monday that case was a fabrication, and that there was “not a whisper” of evidence to back up the claims that a 10-year-old rape victim had left Ohio to have an abortion.
On Wednesday he reversed course, saying in a statement after the arrest that he praised the Columbus Police Department for “securing a confession and getting a rapist off the street.”
Thirteen states have already passed trigger laws to ban abortion, in some states even in the case of rape or incest.
Biden, a Democrat and staunch Catholic turned abortion rights proponent, has not contained his anger, calling the abortion bans in the case of rape or incest ‘extreme.”
A majority of Americans — 56 percent, according to an NPR/Marist poll — oppose the overturning of Roe v Wade.