Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

Reported Forced Hysterectomies “Should be a Wake-up Call”

Horrifying accounts of unwanted sterilization and medical neglect in ICE custody demand immediate action

On September 14, UUSC partner the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), along with three other civil rights groups, released a 27-page whistleblower report detailing rampant abuse and medical neglect at an ICE detention facility in Irwin County. Among the complaint’s most disturbing allegations, a doctor reportedly performed hysterectomies on multiple women without their informed consent.

UUSC’s Vice President and Chief Program Officer Rachel Gore Freed made the following statement:

“A person’s control over their own body is a fundamental human right and it is beyond an abuse of power for the government or any government agency to interfere with this. The shocking accusation that an ICE detention center in Georgia has performed unwanted hysterectomies on detainees should be a wake-up call for our country.

Control over reproductive labor is an invisible subsidy to capitalism. Patriarchy, racism, and U.S. imperialism are intertwined in this context and we need to fundamentally interrogate what is behind the government’s actions.

Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a nurse at Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center, said the neglect and abuse at the center were “jaw-dropping,” citing not only the forced sterilization of brown and Black women but a complete disregard for health and safety protocols in the face of the pandemic.

Our partner GLAHR has long been sounding an alarm about the atrocious conditions at Irwin as well as other notoriously dangerous detention facilities in Georgia, and calling for their immediate closure. Now, we all need to join them and take action to stop this latest escalation in human rights abuses and shut down these jails for good.”

GLAHR and the other organizations who broke the report are calling for immediate congressional investigation of the whistleblower’s allegations and of conditions in all ICE facilities. They also demand that Irwin County Commissioners terminate their contract with ICE as a first step to ending their complicity in the detention of immigrants.

Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Add your name to the joint petition to Shut Down Irwin County Detention Center.
  • Join UUSC in supporting GLAHR’s ICE Free Zone campaign to keep immigration arrests from happening in our communities and prevent more people from being detained under the ghastly conditions detailed in this report.

Freed added:

“Reports of unwanted medical procedures are reminiscent of the worst chapters of human history, and ‘imposing measures intended to prevent births’ is among the warning signs of genocide. Elected officials must treat these claims with the utmost seriousness. They should force in all of us a reckoning with the manifold abuses made possible by the detention and deportation of immigrants.”

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The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization advancing human rights together with an international community of grassroots partners and advocates.

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Photo Credit: iStock – DawidMarkiewicz