10-year-old Ohio girl's rape, abortion receive renewed attention amid Senate race. Here are the facts

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The tightly-contested Senate race in Ohio has cast renewed light on a 10-year-old’s alleged rape and subsequent abortion, with both candidates using the incident to attack the other.

In early July, Indianapolis-based Dr. Caitlin Bernard told a local media outlet that she had performed an abortion for a 10-year-old girl who had been raped and impregnated in Ohio. Bernard used the case to argue in favor of looser abortion restrictions in light of the Supreme Court decision in June overturning the Roe v. Wade decision which created a federal right to abortion in 1973.

“It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care,” Bernard told The Indy Star in an interview on July 1.

However, weeks after Bernard announced the incident, Ohio police charged 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, with rape of a minor under 13 years old in the case. Bernard had listed Fuentes as a minor in her official report to Indiana’s health agency.

OHIO 10-YEAR-OLD’S ALLEGED ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT RAPIST, 27, WAS LISTED AS MINOR IN ABORTIONIST’S REPORT TO STATE

Gerson Fuentes, the man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl in Ohio, is pictured during a court hearing in Columbus, Ohio, on July 28.

Gerson Fuentes, the man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl in Ohio, is pictured during a court hearing in Columbus, Ohio, on July 28.
(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

The case sparked a nationwide debate with Democrats echoing Bernard’s comments, saying the incident was evidence that abortion should be readily available in all states, and Republicans arguing the case showed the importance of stricter border security and immigration laws. 

The disagreement was put on full display during a debate Monday between Ohio Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and JD Vance, a Republican author.

JD VANCE, TIM RYAN SQUARE OFF ON ECONOMIC ISSUES, ABORTION IN HEATED OHIO SENATE DEBATE

“I support going back to Roe v. Wade,” Ryan remarked. “That was established law for 50 years. And we then have all the chaos that we’re having now. We read at least a couple articles every week of young people, under-age girls who have been raped.”

“Or women who have had significant problems with their pregnancy, not be able to get help in the state,” he continued. “They gotta go to Indiana, they gotta go to Illinois.”

Ryan added he believed Congress should codify Roe v. Wade and that Vance had a “very extreme” position on abortion.

“If you get raped, JD Vance and others are going to say you have to have that baby,” Ryan said. “State-mandated pregnancies for a rape victim? That is so far out of the mainstream, it’s not even funny.”

Vance fired back, though, noting that he did support some exceptions on abortion and that the 10-year-old girl was raped by an illegal immigrant.

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“I absolutely think the 10-year-old girl, the case that we’ve of course heard a lot about, is an incredibly tragic situation,” Vance responded. “Look, I’ve got a nine-year-old baby girl at home. I cannot imagine what that’s like for the girl, for her family. God forbid something like that would happen. I have said repeatedly, on the record, that I think that girl should be able to get an abortion if she and her family so choose.” 

“But let’s talk about that case,” he continued. “Why was a 10-year-old girl raped in our community raped in our state in the first place? The thing the media and Congressman Ryan — they talk about this all the time — the thing they never mention is that poor girl was raped by an illegal alien, somebody that should have never been in this state in the first place.” 

Ohio Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and JD Vance, a Republican, are pictured.

Ohio Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and JD Vance, a Republican, are pictured.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Vance then blamed the incident on immigration policies supported by Ryan.

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“You voted so many times against border wall funding so many times for amnesty, Tim,” Vance said. “If you had done your job, she would have never been raped in the first place.”

“Do your job on border security. Don’t lecture me about opinions I don’t actually have.”

The race between Ryan and Vance remains extremely tight less than one month from the election, according to the latest polls. The Cook Political Report rates it as a “lean R” race.

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