U.S. Whistleblower Alleges Detained Immigrants Face Hysterectomies, Medical Neglect


Sep 15, 2020


An ICE detention center. Image credit: DAVID GOLDMAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A whistle-blower alleges detained immigrants at Irwin county detention center in Georgia, U.S., face alarming medical neglect and a high rate of hysterectomies without informed consent. The whistle-blower, a woman named Dawn Wooten, was employed as a nurse at this detention center for three years.

The whistle-blower’s complaint accuses the center of medical negligence, including poor Covid19 safety precautions, hazardous and unsanitary conditions. The complaint also states that doctors performed hysterectomies on Spanish-speaking immigrants who didn’t understand the implications of the procedure they underwent. According to a report by The Intercept, four detainees and one fellow employee have corroborated the whistleblower’s claims but chose to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation.

According to the whistleblower, an off-site doctor performed hysterectomies on women who complained of heavy periods. The nurses would confirm consent by googling Spanish phrases. “Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy – just about everybody…That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector. Everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad,” the whistleblower said, according to a report by the Guardian.

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Forced hysterectomies are a means of forced sterilization, a form of human rights abuse marginalized women are subjected to/coerced into across the world, including India. According to research published in Public Health Reviews journal, people perpetuating this practice have, “…targeted women who are ethnic and racial minorities, women with disabilities, women living with HIV, and poor women.” Bioethicists call forced sterilization eugenics, as the practice takes place with the best interests of society/caregivers of the individuals in question, rather than the individuals themselves.

The Irwin county detention center is run by LaSalle Corrections, a private corporation. A spokesperson for LaSalle told The Intercept, “LaSalle Corrections is firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in our care. We are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments.” The ICE hasn’t released a statement as of now.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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