A judge Thursday ordered a Southern California obstetrician-gynecologist to immediately stop performing abortions and delivering babies until a formal disciplinary hearing can be held about the death of one of his patients during an abortion.
Administrative Law Judge James Ahler stopped short of granting a request by attorneys for the Medical Board of California to immediately suspend the license of Dr. Andrew Rutland, opting to temporarily limit his practice instead.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Douglas Lee, at a hearing in San Diego, had argued that Rutland "committed repeated negligent acts in his care and treatment" of a 30-year-old woman who came to a clinic in San Gabriel in August seeking an abortion.
The patient, Ying Chen, had a toxic reaction to a drug administered by Rutland, Lee said, and the doctor did not have the proper equipment or personnel in case of an emergency. In a written decision, Ahler said that Rutland's willingness to perform a second-trimester abortion in a facility inadequately equipped for emergencies "casts doubt on his professional judgment."
The judge said Rutland "presents a risk of danger and there is a likelihood of injury to the public" if he is allowed to continue deliveries or surgeries. He discounted the doctor's contention that he was not actually performing an abortion but merely preparing the patient for such a procedure in several days at a different facility. Ahler said that was contradicted by the doctor's earlier statements to a law enforcement investigator and a Medical Board consultant.
At the time of the death, Rutland was on five years' administrative probation stemming from another case in which he surrendered his license amid an investigation into the death of two infants shortly after delivery, according to state records. His license was later reinstated.