IRWIN COUNTY, Georgia, September 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A nurse has come forward to accuse a privately-run Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Georgia of performing hysterectomies on female illegal immigrants en masse, without medical necessity. Whether the women consented or understood the procedure they were undergoing is unclear.
The activist groups Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network have filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) against Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) on behalf of a nurse who used to work there, Dawn Wooten.
Law & Crime reports that Wooten and others allege witnessing several examples of “jarring medical neglect” at ICDC (which is run by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections), the most alarming of which is the claim that an outside physician was brought in to examine women, most of whom he performed hysterectomies on.
“Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody. Everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad,” Wooten says. “We’ve questioned among ourselves, like, goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector.”
“Recently, a detained immigrant told Project South that she talked to five different women detained at ICDC between October and December 2019 who had a hysterectomy done,” the complaint says. “When she talked to them about the surgery, the women ‘reacted confused when explaining why they had one done.’”
Among the complaint’s examples is a detainee who says she was improperly anthesized beforehand and subsequently heard the doctor had mistakenly removed the wrong ovary, destroying her ability to have children in the future:
Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody. He’s even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady [detained immigrant woman]. She was supposed to get her left ovary removed because it had a cyst on the left ovary; he took out the right one. She was upset. She had to go back to take out the left and she wound up with a total hysterectomy. She still wanted children—so she has to go back home now and tell her husband that she can’t bear kids… she said she was not all the way out under anesthesia and heard him [doctor] tell the nurse that he took the wrong ovary.
LaSalle Corrections has so far refused to comment on the allegations. ICE has issued a statement claiming that it “does not comment on matters presented to” OIG, and while it “takes all allegations seriously,” it also maintains that “anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.” ICE added that ICDC “has been inspected multiple times, with and without warning, and that the facility has been found to be in compliance with Performance Based National Detention Standards.”
In 2014, the California State Auditor released a report which of the 144 prison inmates “who underwent tubal ligations from fiscal years 2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found nearly one-third were performed without lawful consent.”
“In some cases, physicians falsified the consent forms,” USA Today reported. The audit found “that all women receiving tubal ligations had been incarcerated at least once before, indicating that they were repeat offenders,” seeming to suggest they were targeted.
Forced sterilization in California prisons was the subject of a Human Rights Watch film released earlier this year.
Beginning in 1932, what is now known as the infamous Tuskegee Study or Tuskegee Experiment was a “40-year experiment run by Public Health Service officials followed 600 rural black men in Alabama with syphilis over the course of their lives, refusing to tell patients their diagnosis, refusing to treat them for the debilitating disease, and actively denying some of them treatment,” The Atlantic summarized.