US Opens Probe Into Claims Of Forced Hysterectomies On Detained Immigrants
A whistleblower said she heard from several women that they'd had hysterectomies and didn't know why. A detained immigrant said, "It was like they're experimenting with our bodies."
Whistleblower Alleges 'Medical Neglect,' Questionable Hysterectomies Of ICE Detainees
Top congressional Democrats are calling for a federal investigation after a nurse who worked at an immigration detention center in Georgia filed a whistleblower complaint alleging a lack of medical care and unsafe work practices that facilitated the spread of COVID-19. She also says that immigrant women received questionable hysterectomies, an allegation that lawmakers seized on in statements issued Tuesday. (Treisman, 9/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Opens Investigation Into Claims Of Forced Hysterectomies On Detained Migrants
The complaint, filed by Dawn Wooten, a nurse employed at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., along with several civil-rights organizations, alleges that “high rates of hysterectomies” were performed on immigrant women who didn’t need them and weren’t fully aware they were going to be performed. The complaint cites several detained immigrants as witnesses, though many of the accounts are secondhand. Ms. Wooten also appears not to have witnessed the hysterectomies, though she testified in the complaint to speaking with several women who underwent them. “I’ve had several inmates tell me that they’ve been to see the doctor and they’ve had hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going,” she said in the complaint. (Andrews and Hackman, 9/16)
The New York Times:
Inquiry Ordered Into Claims Immigrants Had Unwanted Gynecology Procedures
The woman, who like the others was not identified because she feared retaliation from immigration authorities, said she was transported this year to Irwin County Hospital for a procedure but was given three different explanations of what it would be, ranging from having her womb removed entirely to instead having a small amount of tissue scraped away. Ultimately, the complaint says, the hospital declined to operate on the woman because she tested positive for antibodies to the novel coronavirus. But the woman said the experience left her “feeling scared and frustrated, saying it ‘felt like they were trying to mess with my body,’” the complaint said. (Dickerson, 9/16)
Unpacking Allegations Of Forced Hysterectomies At Immigrant Detention Centers.
The complaint was first reported by LawandCrime.com, a website run by attorney and television personality Dan Abrams. That report is entirely sourced from the filed complaint and mostly focuses on the lack of proper COVID-19 protocols, but the LawandCrime.com headline focused on the alleged sterilizations—“ ‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center.” The story was widely shared on Monday night, and as of Tuesday, multiple other news outlets covered the allegations. Thus far, no one has obtained direct corroboration from women who allege they were forced into a hysterectomy. On Tuesday night, the Intercept published a story on the allegations around the hysterectomies that quoted several anonymous women staying at ICDC who shared stories about how they felt they had been pressured into having a hysterectomy, and who noted that they were frequently forced to go without an interpreter, but it was unclear if they had gone through with the procedure. (Lithwick, 9/15)
The Outcry Over ICE And Hysterectomies At A Georgia Immigrant Detention Center, Explained
Many of the details of the allegations against the Georgia facility are still emerging, and both ICE and the private operator of the facility have called for skepticism of the complaint, which relies on secondhand accounts of the hysterectomies that were allegedly performed. Attorneys have since come forward with firsthand accounts of such procedures, but it is not clear to what extent ICE and the medical staff involved sought the detainees’ consent to perform those procedures or whether they were medically necessary.But the accusations, which echo of the ugly history of coercive sterilization in the US, have sparked widespread outrage — including calls for formal investigations. But this is far from the first time that ICE, the federal agency charged with enforcing immigration law in the US, has been accused of neglecting immigrants’ health and safety, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Narea, 9/16)