ICE whistleblower: Nurse alleges 'hysterectomies on immigrant women in US'

‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center

‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center

Well, more out of control...

The facility in Ocilla, about 200 miles south of Atlanta, houses men and women detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service and Irwin County. 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.

Human rights groups and a whistle-blower are condemning the Trump administration for the treatment of migrants at a holding facility in Georgia, where they say there's been incidents of negligence and abuse - like forced hysterectomies for women.

Another lawyer, Sarah Owings, said she has heard of many women who are told they have ovarian cysts that need to be removed or drained.

In its complaint, Project South said some migrant women were given hysterectomies without their consent and had expressed confusion about the procedures. "The woman told Project South that it was as though the women were trying to tell themselves 'it's going to be OK'".

The detainee who witnessed all this did understand though.

One detainee, interviewed by Project South, likened the centre to "an experimental concentration camp", adding: "It was like they're experimenting with our bodies". "They're now being detained, waiting for their day in court, which they're entitled to under the law".

Unfortunately, this really is sounding like a concentration camp - not hyperbole. She added that this doctor nearly always chose to perform hysterectomies on the patients he saw.

"We've questioned among ourselves like goodness he's taking everybody's stuff out..."

"He's the uterus collector", Wooten said in the complaint.

"I don't think this is necessarily a systemic sterilization by ICE I think this is the kind of thing that is allowed to flourish in the course of poor oversight and bad, inhumane conditions of confinement", said Owings. Everybody he sees, he's taking all their uteruses out or he's taken their tubes out.

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The whistleblower nurse, Dawn Wooten, said that detained women told her they did not fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy - an operation involving the removal of all or part of the uterus.

Staff was just as inexperienced in the surgery room, the complaint alleged.

"I've had several inmates tell me that they've been to see the doctor and they've had hysterectomies and they don't know why they went or why they're going", Wooten said.

Wooten said that the number of those who were having the procedure led she and her colleagues to question what the necessity was. Nurses raised concerns about the doctor, who is unnamed. The officer who was transporting her to the hospital told her that she was receiving a hysterectomy to have her womb removed.

Wooten spoke little about the hysterectomy allegation during the news conference, instead focusing on her concerns that the facility wasn't testing detainees for COVID-19, that the detention center wasn't being sanitized, and that little protective equipment was available for employees.

Another nurse then told her the procedure was to mitigate her heavy menstrual bleeding, which the woman had never experienced.

The agency maintains that the Irwin County Detention Center has been inspected multiple times, with and without warning, and that the facility has been found to be in compliance with Performance Based National Detention Standards.

Wooten also claimed that it was common practice for a sick call nurse to shred medical request forms from detainees requesting to go to the medical unit and fabricate records such as vital signs without seeing the patient seeking help, the complaint said. But after her hysterectomy, an oncologist in Charlotte said she did not have cancer, according to Osorio. Even after America saw the photos of children being separated from their parents and put in cages.

In a statement responding to Wooten's allegations, a spokesperson for ICE said, "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on matters presented to the Office of the Inspector General, which provides independent oversight and accountability within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security".

ICE responded to the allegations on Monday evening, suggesting in a statement that charges from anonymous patients cited in the complaint "should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve".

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