Whistleblower speaks out against unethical medical procedures at ICE facilities

Lou Hansen

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For years now, the public has been hearing horror stories of the immigration process to get into the United States of America: from children being separated from their parents and getting locked in cages, to the rampant eagerness by many Americans to build a wall to stop people specifically of hispanic descent from entering the US.

Now a new story has come out. A whistleblower told news agencies about supposed forced hysterectomies, surgeries which remove women’s uteruses. Hysterectomies in themselves are not unlawful as long as the patient has given consent and understands the whole of what is going to happen to them.

“This profoundly disturbing situation recalls some of the darkest moments of our nation’s history.””

— Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

What allegedly happened was that some women being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, had been put into a private detention center in Georgia called The Irwin County Detention Center, ICDC.

Certain people in the staff had then noticed that a lot of these women had been put under the knife for hysterectomies, which caused whistleblower and nurse at the ICDC Dawn Wooten to speak out.

With these allegations put forward, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Orbador stated that his government would take legal action against the US if these allegations turned out to be true, El Universal, a Mexican newspaper, reported.

Many House Democrats have stated that they want an investigation to be put underway as to what is happening at the ICDC, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“If true, the appalling conditions described in the whistleblower complaint – including allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on vulnerable immigrant women – are a staggering abuse of human rights,” Pelosi said in a press release. “This profoundly disturbing situation recalls some of the darkest moments of our nation’s history, from the exploitation of Henrietta Lacks, to the horror of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, to the forced sterilizations of Black women that Fannie Lou Hamer and so many others underwent and fought.”

Other politicians spoke out too.

“It has become clear that the initial reports are likely part of a horrific pattern of conduct.””

— US Representative Pramila Jayapal

“Yesterday, I was briefed by attorneys representing women who were subjected to forced, invasive procedures by a gynecologist connected with a private, for-profit detention center in Georgia,” US Representative Pramila Jayapal said in a tweet on Sept. 16. “It has become clear that the initial reports are likely part of a horrific pattern of conduct.”

Bill Bigelow, an activist for the rights of immigrants and author and editor of Rethinking Schools, also speaks about the ongoing human rights crisis. He recounted the story of a friend of his who was a taxi driver. 

“[He said] we on the border are whoever the United States demands us to be. That we are cheap labor. We come to the United States when the United States needs us. We leave when we’re thrown back. We’re cheap labor in Mexico,” Bigelow recounted. “We provide drugs when the United States wants drugs, sex when the United States wants sex. We are treated as the tools of the United States.”

In response to the allegations coming against them, ICE put out a statement denying them. 

“A medical procedure like a hysterectomy would never be performed against a detainee’s will,” ICE said in a statement, which was reported on by Aljazeera