Whistleblower Alleges a High Number of Female ICE Detainees Have Been Subjected Hysterectomies for Reason Reportedly Unknown

Project South, which was founded as the Institute to Eliminate Poverty & Genocide in 1986, is spearheading the filing of a complaint against a private immigration detention facility in Georgia. According to Romper, the complaint came after a whistleblower alleged that ICE detainees were being subjected to hysterectomies, unsanitary conditions, and medical neglect.

As the complaint claims, after they were detained by ICE and held at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC), a high number of women had hysterectomies performed on them. ICDC is a private facility operated by LaSalle Corrections.

Whistleblower Says an Alarming Amount of Hysterectomies Are Being Performed on Female ICE Detainees

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“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,” this is what one of the detainees told Project South in 2019, according to the complaint.

Project South also met with at least five other female detainees who had been subjected to a hysterectomy while at the Irwin County Detention Center. Another detained immigrant told Project South that she was not given her breast cancer medication for six weeks.

“The medical unit is not helpful at all, even if you are dying,” the detainee admitted. “For everything, including serious
illnesses, they just hand out ibuprofen.”

Other words used in the complaint to describe ICDC were “unsanitary,” “not equipped for humans,” “dirty,” and the food was labeled as “disgusting.” A detained told Project South that “the food is often spoiled and often times cockroaches and ants from the unit come into the food.”

And when it came to COVID-19 precautions, there reportedly weren’t any. “Detained immigrants have reported not being able to be socially distant, not having proper PPE, and being afraid of dying in the facility.”

As the whistleblower, who was identified in the complaint as former ICDC nurse, Dawn Wooten, explained, while ICE reported that a total of 41 detained immigrants at ICDC tested positive for COVID-19, Wooten says “the actual number of those infected is much higher.”

She explained to Project South that “ICDC has not been actively testing detained immigrants and has not been ‘reporting all these cases that are positive’ to ICE or the State Department.” Wooten was a fulltime nurse at the detention center until July 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 claims in the complaint, ICE Assistant Field Office Director Patrick Musante said the “ICDC is currently following the Interim Considerations for SARS-CoV-2 Testing in Correctional and Detention Facilities, which can be found [here]. Any person housed in ICDC that is presenting symptoms, and feels sick, can fill out a sick-call request and then be seen by the ICDC medical staff for evaluation and treatment as appropriate.”

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And in regards to the alleged forced hysterectomies, Wooten told Project South that she questioned why a gynecologist used by the facility has performed so many hysterectomies of detainees. The gynecologist was identified as Dr. Mahendra Amin. Wooten told Project South:

“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.”

Many of the women didn’t understand why they had to undergo the procedure, Wooten claimed. One detainee said “she reported feeling scared and frustrated, saying it ‘felt like they were trying to mess with my body.'”

After reaching out to ICE, a spokesperson told Romper that “the agency does not comment on matters that have been presented to the Office of the Inspector General, they noted anonymous and unproven allegations should be treated with skepticism.”

“ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results,” ICE spokesperson Lindsay Williams says. “That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”

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