Multiple legal advocacy groups filed a whistleblower complaint on Monday following allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on migrant women at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other "jarring medical neglect."
Per Law & Crime, the case was filed on behalf of Dawn Wooten who was a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. Advocacy groups Project South, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Georgia Detention Watch, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, filed the complaint to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security.
Several women including Wooten came forward to tell Project South about what they felt was an excessive amount of inmates being subjected to hysterectomies. Many of the women who underwent the procedure were reportedly "confused" when asked to explain why they were getting the surgery. One detainee went as far as to compare the treatment to that of concentration camps.
"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," a statement reads. "When she talked to them about the surgery, the women ‘reacted confused when explaining why they had one done.’ The woman told Project South that it was as though the women were ‘trying to tell themselves it’s going to be OK.’"
"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 unnamed detainee added.
Wooten claims that the facility used one particular outside gynecologist who always opted to remove all parts of the female uterus instead of just a piece like most hysterectomies. It got to the point that employees started to refer to him as a "uterus collector."
"We’ve questioned among ourselves like goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector," Wooten said. "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."
Dawn Wooten, the nurse who blew the whistle on ICE, just went on MSNBC. This is being done in our name. pic.twitter.com/ljacMzUQ0N— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) September 16, 2020
She went on to say that many of the detainees appeared to be forced to have the procedure and that the doctor gained their consent by googling Spanish phrases. Along with these surgeries, the complaint lists out basic medical care that was denied from detainees like coronavirus testing.
ICE declined to comment on the allegations in the complaint. But, Lasalle Corrections—which runs the Irwin County Detention Center—insists that it was following legal and ethical guidelines.
"We are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments," a spokesperson said.