The Indianapolis Star |The Columbus Dispatch | The Cincinnati Enquirer | USA Today, 2023
In a powerful example of effective collaborative reporting, USA Today Network journalists leveraged deep connections with their local communities to break and confirm a story that became central to the national debate over reproductive rights.
In a story analyzing the impact of the Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade, Indianapolis Star health care reporter Shari Rudavsky included an anecdote from a trusted source – a doctor who told her about a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had to come to Indiana for an abortion. The victim of sexual assault could not receive the procedure in her home state because of narrowing and ambiguous abortion rules following the Supreme Court decision. The story of the girl’s plight gained immediate national attention from commentators and advocates across the political spectrum.
Working under the pressure of intense national criticism, politicians and others calling their reporting fabricated and anonymous threats from anti-abortion advocates, reporters from the Indianapolis Star, The Columbus Dispatch, The Cincinnati Enquirer and USA Today continued their work to prove their story was correct and add details and information that provided important context.
The team talked to trusted local sources, unearthed irrefutable court documentation and tracked down the criminal case that confirmed the anecdote was true. In the end, a reporter from The Columbus Dispatch was the only journalist in the courtroom when the suspect in the rape case was arraigned. Reporting the truth of the young girl’s story has provided state lawmakers with a tangible, real world case for including exceptions in post-Roe v. Wade abortion legislation.