Rep Jayapal Calls For Probe Into Mass Immigrant Hysterectomies

Jayapal urged DHS inspector general to open investigation into allegations of mass hysterectomies without consent. 

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The Indian American
2 min read
Rep Pramila Jayapal questions Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
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In a whistleblower complaint, a nurse at an ICE detention centre, Dawn Wooten, recently came forward alleging mass hysterectomies being performed on immigrants at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, usually without their consent.

Seattle Representative, Pramila Jayapal, in a letter co-signed by 173 members of the Congress including Rep Raja Krishnamoorthi and Rep Ro Khanna, has urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “thoroughly examine the allegations raised.”

“We are horrified to see reports of mass hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facility without their full, informed consent and request. Everyone—regardless of their immigration status, their language, or their incarceration—deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies,” wrote lawmakers Jayapal, Nadler and Lofgen.

“We request that your office immediately open an investigation to thoroughly examine allegations raised", urging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari through a letter.

The complaint, registered by Project South, highlights several difficulties being faced by immigrants being held at the detention centre.

“This place is not equipped for humans,” said one detained immigrant at Irwin.

“I don’t want to die here. Please release me, let me be with my family... A lot of people are afraid”, added another.

“There is no social distancing. We’re in an open dorm room. Our beds are nothing but three feet apart. We don’t understand how we’re supposed to do that...our living space is so small; there’s no way we could do that. Our toilets are about four feet apart with a little wall separating them..."

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.

She further said: “When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”

The whistleblower, nurse Wooten, explained, “These immigrant women, I don’t think they really, totally, all the way understand this is what’s going to happen depending on who explains it to them", regarding the hysterectomies, raising the issue of muddled informed consent.

Speaking of the gynaecologist that performs these alleged hysterectomies, Ms. Wooten said:

“We’ve questioned among ourselves like goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out...That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector. I know that’s ugly...is he collecting these things or something...Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out. What in the world.”

"Ms. Wooten's account of the treatment of people in ICE custody is horrifying," Silky Shah, the executive director of Detention Watch Network, a nonprofit that also helped file the complaint, told Business Insider in a statement.

"People's lives are at risk in immigration detention, and ICE has continued to prove through its record of medical neglect that no one is safe in its custody."

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