At least 17 women were subjected to unnecessary surgeries, including hysterectomies (removal of the uterus), in an immigrant detention center in Georgia (USA), as denounced this Wednesday by a US congresswoman, who along with 173 representatives requested an official investigation into these cases.
The federal representative for the state of Washington Pramila Jayapal said that she received information from three lawyers representing women who were detained at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, and subjected to “invasive and forced procedures by a gynecologist” related to that prison.
“It appears that there may be at least 17 to 18 women who underwent unnecessary gynecological medical procedures from a single physician, often without appropriate consent or knowledge, and with the clear intention of sterilization “, Jayapal stated in a statement to the press.
The congresswoman’s complaint comes after several civil rights organizations filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday. based on the testimony of Dawn Wooten, a nurse who worked in that prison for the undocumented.
The nurse reported a series of “dangerous practices” that occur in Irwin, including the removal of the uterus of several women.
“Since the initial story came out, it is my understanding that there are at least five independent attorneys representing women who have found themselves to be part of this horrible pattern, subjected to unnecessary forced sterilizations or medical procedures in recent years, “said the congresswoman.
This Wednesday, Jayapal and his colleagues Jerrold Nadler, Judy Chu and Zoe Lofgen led a request of 173 congressmen urging the DHS Office of the Inspector General to open a immediate investigation on complaints of hysterectomies.
“We are horrified to see reports of massive hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facilities without their consent … Everyone, regardless of immigration status, language, or incarceration, deserves to control their own reproductive options and make informed decisions about their bodies, “said lawmakers.
“We request that your office immediately open an investigation to thoroughly examine the allegations raised,” added the representatives, who also urged Congress to investigate the allegations.
The response of the authorities
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), for its part, announced this Wednesday that will open an independent investigation on reports of hysterectomies to female prisoners at the Irwin Detention Center.
The ICE, however, “vehemently disputes the implication that the detainees are used for experimental medical procedures”, said Ada Rivera, medical director of the agency’s Health Services Corps, in a statement sent to Efe.
Rivera indicated that since 2018, “only two people at the Irwin County Detention Center have been referred to certified and accredited medical professionals in gynecological and obstetric health care facilities to perform hysterectomies, in accordance with the standards of the National Correctional Health Care Commission (NCCHC). “
“According to their evaluations, these specialists recommended hysterectomies. These recommendations were reviewed by the clinical authority of the center and approved “, explained the source.
Azadeh Shahshahani, legal director of Project South, one of the organizations that filed the complaint with (DHS), was satisfied that the United States Congress is getting involved in this situation that has occurred in that Georgia detention center, operated by the private company LaSalle Corrections.
“We cannot verify the veracity of the number of women affected, maybe the number is higher, but we are happy that more people are coming out to speak about this matter, “Shahshahani told EFE.
For gynecologist Jennifer Conti, professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, reports of surgical interventions like these should be taken seriously and investigated in the background.
“As a doctor, as a gynecologist, who has performed hysterectomies as part of my practice, it would be completely unethical to do these surgeries without the consent of the patients. This would be a violation of their human rights “, Conti declared to Efe.
The doctor said that fewer and fewer women in the United States are subjected to these operations, in which the uterus is removed for some medical problem, because there are other treatment options, which are not necessarily surgical.