Reports of unconsented hysterectomies calls for review of detention center


Photo courtesy of Peg Hunter on Flickr

The United States has a deplorable history of imposing eugenics and forced sterilization practices on women of color.

Destinee Taylor, Staff Writer

This story was updated on Oct. 13 with links to reporting on the alleged misconduct.

A whistleblower came forward with claims of hysterectomies performed on female detainees without their consent at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia, according to reporting by media outlets such as NPR and the New York Times

Five gynecologists reviewed the medical cases of at least 16 women who were treated by Dr. Mahendra Amin. The physicians determined that Dr. Amin almost always recommended surgery for these women, even if it was not necessary. 

For some women, Dr. Amin allegedly documented symptoms that they never reported experiencing. 

Complaints from different women allege the same issue of procedures being performed on them without their knowledge, consult or consent, including vaginal exams, hysterectomies and endocervical curettage, the removal of cervical tissue.

Official representatives of ICE have emphatically denied these claims of illegal medical practice, pointing out that medical records contradict the whistleblower complaint and report only two hysterectomy referrals for detained women since 2018.

However, if women were being lied to and denied their right to informed consent for medical procedures performed on their bodies, then records very well might not indicate referrals for hysterectomies. In theory, they could just document false information. 

This indicates that rather than this possibly being a case of a single doctor allegedly abusing his power, there may be a systemic practice of corruption and abuse within ICE facilities. 

If the allegations are true, Dr. Amin was allowed to commit malpractice without sanction from a negligent federal department. But even this is unacceptable. 

Immigrant women of color are among the most vulnerable of any given population. When ICE forcibly incarcerates immigrant women in temporary detention centers, they assume responsibility over those women’s health and well-being. 

When ICE allows women to continuously be mistreated and harmed, they are complicit in the torture and traumatization of unprotected immigrants. 

Dr. Amin was investigated for medical malpractice and misconduct before, yet the ICDC still allowed him regular access to a number of women who sought help within their building. 

Calls to abolish ICE have gone ignored by Congress and the White House and the Irwin County Detention Center, owned by a private prison company, has ignored several complaints lodged against Dr. Amin over the past years. 

But these reports of ICE endangering women’s safety must be addressed. Congressional legislators have called on the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an investigation of these allegations against the ICE detention center. 

But what is the likelihood of a department finding its own agency guilty? 

Abolitionists will be waiting to see if the Capitol will take measures to address the allegations of human rights violations committed by ICE. 

Immigrants are forcibly imprisoned by ICE, and are not even allowed to receive phone calls in the Irwin County Detention Center

We must listen now to those who have come forward with the truth about their horrible experiences and the injustices done by our federal immigration agency.

To read more about the alleged misconduct, see the following articles:

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California