A nurse who works for an ICE facility in Georgia filed a complaint to the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, writing that government doctors were performing mass hysterectomies on immigrant women against their will, according to Yahoo News.
The doctor has been identified as Dr. Mahendra Amin, a 68-year-old who is also an immigrant according to Prism.
Dawn Wooten worked as a nurse for the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia which is operated by LaSalle Correction but used by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as a detention facility for immigrants.
Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network all came together to file the complaint on behalf of Wooten.
In the complaint, Wooten lays out her alarming observations and includes anecdotes about officials refusing to test detainees for COVID-19 even if they have symptoms and the mass removal of women's ovaries.“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 in the complaint.
In her statement, Wooten wrote that women who complained of having heavy menstrual cycles or abdominal pain had hysterectomies performed on them by a doctor outside of the facility who she called "the uterus collector.”"Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy — just about everybody. He’s even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady [detained immigrant woman]. She was supposed to get her left ovary removed because it had a cyst on the left ovary; he took out the right one. She still wanted children-so she has to go back home now and tell her husband that she can’t bear kids,” Wooten said in the report.
Wooten, who is Black, wrote passionately about how her complaints were received, saying she was demoted in July and reprimanded when she told her superiors that what they were doing was wrong.“I’m asking for these things and speaking for these detainees. I’m a problem. I’m being seen and I’m not supposed to be seen or heard. It makes you look like you’re not doing your job,” she said.
There is a long history of unwanted hysterectomies and sterilization in the United States, particularly with Black women and immigrants. For decades, Black women were sterilized against their will throughout the South during C-sections and other medical procedures.
Legendary civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer was sterilized against her will in 1961 while having a small tumor removed.
“In the North Sunflower County Hospital. I would say about six out of the 10 Negro women that go to the hospital are sterilized with the tubes tied,” Hamer once said, according to The Washington Post.
So many Black people were sterilized in North Carolina that the state was forced to compensate people who had reproductive organs forcibly removed during other procedures, according to USA Today.
Wooten said women repeatedly came to her after seeing the doctor outside of the facility to ask why they had their ovaries removed while being treated for other issues.
“Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out. What in the world,” she wrote.
In addition to the concerns she raised about the hysterectomies and the lack of COVID-19 protections, she also said her supervisor died from COVID-19 after working in the facility. In the report, she says he caught it from people in the facility and that in general, cases of the virus were not being reported.
Women being detained at the Irwin County Detention Center made waves in April when they released a video showing the condition of the facility and the lackluster treatment they were receiving.
The Intercept spoke with Wooten and a lawyer for Project South, who said the nurse's claims were emblematic of the Trump administration's general lack of care about immigrants.
“Ms. Wooten’s whistleblowing disclosures confirm what detained immigrants have been reporting for years — gross disregard for health and safety standards, lack of medical care, and unsanitary living conditions,” the lawyer said.
This is not the first report of ICE officials mishandling women and children. During a discussion about Black immigrants from Haiti, South America and Africa led by the non-profit Raices, lawyers said their clients in Texas were reporting troubling instances of medical malpractice.
One lawyer told a horrifying story about a Haitian woman who was pregnant and was having pain as well as bleeding while being held at the Karnes County Correctional Center in Texas. There is no OBGYN at the facility so a prison guard had to take the woman outside of the facility for a medical appointment.
She did not speak English, so after the exam, the doctor told the male guard accompanying her what was happening. The guard never explained to the woman what the doctor said or what was discovered during the exam.
For weeks, she waited for more information about what the doctor told the prison guard. It was three weeks later that she was finally informed that the doctor told the prison guard that her baby had no heartbeat and that she had miscarried.