SAN DIEGO, Calif. A Southern California doctor has been ordered to stop performing abortions and delivering babies until the state licensing board determines whether the physician should be stripped of his license after the July death of a patient.
During a Jan. 8 hearing in San Diego, Deputy Attorney General Douglas Lee asked Administrative Judge James Ahler to revoke the license of Andrew Rutland, saying a series of negligent acts committed by the doctor led to the death of 30-year-old Ying Chen during a second trimester abortion at a San Gabriel clinic.
The hearing was requested by the California Medical Board, which sought an emergency suspension of Rutland's license. The board issued a nine-count complaint against the abortion doctor on Christmas Eve in the July 2009 death of Chen.
According to the complaint, Rutland administered an overdose of lidocaine to Chen and then failed to recognize the symptoms of the overdose. Chen later went into cardiac arrest. Rutland and his staff, the board alleged, were untrained and unequipped to handle the medical emergency. After a "significant delay" in contacting 911, the woman was transported to a local hospital where she died.
Rutland, officials maintain, failed to report the emergency transport, hospitalization, and patient death as required by law.
During the hearing, Judge Ahler agreed that if Rutland continued to do surgeries and deliveries, he "presents a risk of danger and there is a likelihood of injury to the public," but he stopped short of revoking the license so that Rutland could still consult with his patients.
The judge's decision not to revoke the license was blasted by Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. The Kansas-based pro-life group has been monitoring Southern California clinics for years, helping to shut down numerous mills.
"Rutland is a proven liar," Newman said. "How do we know he will comply with the judge's order to stop doing abortions? Who is going to enforce this order? Are the authorities simply going to take him at his word? We are outraged that Rutland's license was not fully suspended. This decision places women's lives at risk."
In arguing for the revocation of Rutland's license, deputy AG Lee said that the abortion doctor has a history of dishonesty and corruption. He has lied to patients and authorities repeatedly, according to the formal revocation petition filed against him on Christmas Eve.
At the time of Chen's death, Rutland was on probation after having his license revoked after a botched 2003 delivery killed another infant. Under the terms of his probation, Rutland was required to have a second physician monitor his abortion procedures, a requirement he did not fulfill in the Chen procedure.
History repeats itself
Also present at the administrative hearing were Scott and Kathy Broussard of San Juan Capistrano, whose daughter, Jillian, died as a result of a forceps delivery by Rutland. That incident led to the revocation of Rutland's license, until it was reinstated in 2007.
"I think his victims and the public needed to get full peace of mind today, and they didn't," Kathy Broussard told the Orange County Register. "He still has a practice in Anaheim. He's still allowed to do gynecological exams and consultations. It's appalling."
In 2003, Rutland was accused of severing Jillian's spine with forceps during delivery then trying to cover up his mistake by telling her parents the infant suffered a stroke. The child later died.
It was unclear how soon the California Medical Board will meet to consider the status of Rutland's license, although the revocation process is said to be lengthy.
In addition to a clinic in Anaheim, Rutland also performed abortions in Chula Vista and San Gabriel.