DHS Will Probe Report of Mass Hysterectomies

As will House Democrats
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2020 1:54 AM CDT
DHS to Investigate Report of Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Facility
Dawn Wooten, a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, speaks at a Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 news conference in Atlanta protesting conditions at the immigration jail.   (AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

A whistleblower's claim of mass hysterectomies performed at an ICE detention center in Georgia will be investigated by multiple groups. Nurse Dawn Wooten made waves with her report that multiple female immigrants held at the Irwin County Detention Center have had their uteruses removed without consent, though neither the New York Times nor the AP have been able to independently verify those claims, which the AP calls only "lightly substantiated." Even so, more than 170 lawmakers have called for a probe, and House Democrats said they would launch an investigation. The Department of Homeland Security is also investigating.

A top medical official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement "vehemently" denies the claims, and says just two women at the facility have been referred for hysterectomies since 2018 and that both surgeries were approved by ICE officials. "To be clear, medical care decisions concerning detainees are made by medical personnel, not by law enforcement personnel,” he said in the statement. “Detainees are afforded informed consent, and a medical procedure like a hysterectomy would never be performed against a detainee’s will." He noted that ICE will cooperate with the DHS investigation. Meanwhile, the doctor alleged to have performed the surgeries tells the Intercept he has only performed "one or two hysterectomies in the past two [or] three years." (More Immigration and Customs Enforcement stories.)

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