Whistleblower nurse alleges 'hysterectomies performed on immigrant women' in US

15 Septembre, 2020, 22:25 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • ‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center

ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results.

In a statement to Law and Crime, I.C.E. 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".

The agency told the Associated Press that "anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate scepticism they deserve".

A whistleblower complaint filed by four Southern advocacy groups alleges unnecessary and uninformed sterilizations of detainees along with unsanitary conditions at the Irwin County Detention Center, which one inmate called "not equipped for humans".

"Ms. Wooten's whistle-blowing disclosures reveal not only gross mismanagement from [the facility's] leadership, but actions that deliberately put the health of detainees, workers, and the public at risk", Government Accountability Project attorney John Whitty said in a statement.

Advocacy group Project South has filed a complaint with the Homeland Security Department's internal watchdog that relies heavily on the nurse's words.

Multiple women came forward to tell Project South about what they perceived to be the inordinate rate at which women in ICDC were subjected to hysterectomies - a surgical operation in which all or part of the uterus is removed.

Azadeh Shahshahani, a human rights attorney at Project South, told The Guardian that the groups also plan to file the complaints to the United Nations, describing the alleged treatment as "gross human rights violations" for which "the USA government should be held accountable".

"Recently, a detained immigrant told Project South that she talked to five different women detained at ICDC between October and December 2019 who had a hysterectomy done", the complaint stated.

"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.

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"... These immigrant women, I don't think they really, totally, all the way understand this is what's going to happen depending on who explains it to them". "It was like they're experimenting with our bodies", the unnamed detainee added.

According to Wooten, ICDC consistently used a particular gynecologist - outside the facility - who nearly always opted to remove all or part of the uterus of his female detainee patients.

"We've questioned among ourselves like, 'Goodness, he's taking everybody's stuff out, '" Wooten said. That's his specialty, he's the uterus collector. I know that's ugly...is he collecting these things or something... "What in the world".

The complaint provided additional accounts from women who said they underwent the procedure, including one who alleged that she had not been properly anesthetized. She explained that some of the nurses who didn't speak Spanish obtained consent from detainees "by simply googling Spanish".

"She still wanted children - so she has to go back home now and tell her husband that she can't bear kids", Wooten said.

"She was originally told by the doctor that she had an ovarian cyst and was going to have a small twenty-minute procedure done drilling three small holes in her stomach to drain the cyst", according to the complaint. "The officer who was transporting her to the hospital told her that she was receiving a hysterectomy to have her womb removed".

Another nurse then told her the procedure was to mitigate her heavy menstrual bleeding, which the woman had never experienced. When she explained that, the nurse "responded by getting angry and agitated and began yelling at her".

In July, the CEO of LaSalle Corrections, which runs Irwin and 17 other detention centers, claimed in a letter to Congress that no one at any LaSalle facility had "succumbed" to COVID-19, when in reality, as The Intercept writes, "at least two LaSalle guards and one member of medical staff have died of the disease". "We are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments".

Law&Crime reached out to ICE for comment. We will update this story if we receive responses.

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