September 18, 2020 Media

Colorado Politics: DeGette calls for investigation of alleged hysterectomies on immigrants

Following a whistleblower complaint made public this week about alleged non-consensual medical operations performed on detained immigrant women, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette is calling for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to investigate.

“If true, the severe medical neglect that allegedly took place at this ICE facility is unconscionable and constitutes a blatant disregard for human life, as well as a serious violation of detainees’ human rights,” said DeGette, along with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., in a statement. The two are the chairs of the Pro Choice Caucus.

Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network filed a complaint with Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari this week about the privately-run immigrant detention center in Irwin County, Ga.

Prism first reported that Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the facility, and several unnamed detainees alleged that an outside doctor performed a high rate of hysterectomies on detained women, sometimes without their full understanding.

“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies,” Wooten said. U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, whose district includes a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center, said that if the claims were true, they equated to “crimes against humanity.”

ICE told NPR that the agency “vehemently disputes the implication that detainees are used for experimental medical procedures.”

“These egregious abuses echo the shameful legacy of reproductive coercion and forced sterilization of Black, Brown and Indigenous people, as well as those with disabilities, in our country,” DeGette and Lee continued in their statement. “Reproductive coercion has historically been a tool of oppression and if these allegations are true, they are no different.”