ICE sterilizes women without full consent

  • By: Sananda Dasgupta
  • Date: July 7, 2022
  • Time to read: 2 min.

ICE sterilizes women without full consent — alleges whistle-blower nurse, Federal watchdog to investigate

US immigration officials said a Federal watchdog would investigate the allegation of questionable hysterectomies of ICE detainees. The allegation was made by a whistle-blower nurse who previously worked in a Georgia immigration detention facility.

The whistle-blower Dawn Wooten is a licensed practical nurse and worked at the facility until July this year before she was suddenly demoted. On Monday, Wooten filed a complaint to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General alleging “jarring medical neglect” during the ongoing pandemic and the practice of performing hysterectomies on Spanish speaking women without their knowledge.

In her complaint, Wooten referred to one particular gynecologist whom she “the uterus collector”. She said, “Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out”. According to Wooten, the women were not in a position to consent to the surgery as they lacked information and proper understanding. She said she talked to a number of women detainees who said they did not understand why they were having the surgery.

Wooten was represented by various advocacy groups including the Government Accountability Project, the Georgia Detention Watch, Project South, South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, and others. The advocacy groups incorporated her statement in a 27-page complaint filed with the DHS Office of Inspector General on behalf of her and the detainees at the facility.   

ICE sterilizes women without full consent

The other accusations in the complaints include refusing to test the detained immigrants who show Covid-19 symptoms, shredding medical request form submitted by the detainees, withholding information about who tested positive for the virus, fabricating medical reports, under-reporting the cases of Covid-19, forcing symptomatic employees to work while awaiting test results and allowing the transfer of the infected detainees.

While talking to the press, Wooten said, in July she was experiencing Covid-19 symptoms and thus decided to stay home while awaiting the test results. After this, while she joined, she was demoted from full time to “as needed”. Wooten alleged she faced this “retaliatory reprimand” as she was asking difficult questions.

In response to this allegation ICE released a statement saying it takes all allegations seriously and was “firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody”.

However, while talking to the Associated Press, the agency 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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