Whistleblower complaint charges ICE center with performing mass hysterectomies on prisoners

Whistleblower complaint charges ICE center with performing mass hysterectomies on prisoners
Overcrowding of families observed by OIG on June 11, 2019, at Border Patrol’s Weslaco, TX, Station. Source: Office of the Inspector General

A new whistleblower complaint, which can be read here, has been filed against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency charging "jarring medical neglect" inside the Irwin County Detention Center, in Georgia. The facility is a private prison, run by LaSalle Corrections.

The whistleblower complaint charges facility management with refusing to test detained immigrants for COVID-19 infection, with hiding COVID-19 infections from detainees and from staff, and with other patterns of neglect, but the most shocking claim is of "high rates" of medical sterilizations of detained women. According to the complaint, ICDC nurses report "high rates of hysterectomies done to immigrant women," from "a particular gynecologist outside the facility."

From a nurse and whistleblower at the facility: "Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody. [...] We've questioned among ourselves like goodness he's taking everybody's stuff out. ... That's his specialty, he's the uterus collector. [...] Everybody he sees, he's taking all their uteruses out or he's taken their tubes out. What in the world."

The complaint charges that the immigrant women are not fully informed of the procedures before they are performed, with non-Spanish speaking staff "googling Spanish" to try to convey what will be done or giving conflicting justifications for it. One detainee was reportedly given three separate, conflicting explanations for what procedure was to be done, from draining a cyst to "scraping tissue" to falsely claiming the woman was suffering from "heavy bleeding"—though the women herself told them she was not.

The reasons for the "high rates" of hysterectomies are not speculated on, but the sterilization of prisoners without their informed consent has a notorious history, both in this nation and in others. Whether the procedures are being done through faulty or "neglectful" diagnosis, or in an attempt to inflate medical billing, or for racial motives is not known.

The whistleblower complaint was filed with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General by Project South and other civil rights organizations. The complaint also notes that another LaSalle Corrections facility, the Richwood Correctional Center, was previously accused of similar neglect of COVID-19 safety practices, and urges a "prompt and thorough investigation into these practices" at "all other LaSalle operated facilities as these complaints suggest a more systemic problem."


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