Whistleblower: ICE Center Performed Mass Hysterectomies

Nurse quoted in complaint says it's not clear whether women knowingly consented
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 15, 2020 5:00 AM CDT
Updated Sep 15, 2020 6:27 AM CDT
Whistleblower Claims ICE Performed Mass Hysterectomies
In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer gives instructions to migrants who are on their way to apply for asylum in the United States, on International Bridge 1 as they depart Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

An immigration detention center in Georgia performed questionable hysterectomies, refused to test detainees for COVID-19, and shredded medical records, according to a nurse quoted in a complaint filed Monday. The complaint to the Homeland Security Department's internal watchdog relies on the accounts of Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time as a licensed practical nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed, the AP reports. Wooten calls a gynecologist who works outside the facility “the uterus collector.” “Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody,” Wooten said. “He’s even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady.” It was unclear to Wooten if women knowingly consented to the operations. Nurses raised concerns about the doctor, who is unnamed.

“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,” she is quoted saying. The facility in Ocilla houses men and women detainees for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as inmates for the US Marshals Service and Irwin County. While the 27-page complaint filed by advocacy group Project South quotes unidentified detainees extensively, it also includes detailed comments from Wooten. The complaint says Wooten was demoted after missing work with coronavirus symptoms, which she believes was retaliation for raising questions about addressing COVID-19. Wooten said the number of detainees infected was much higher than reported because there was no active testing and not all cases were reported, according to the complaint. (More Immigration and Customs Enforcement stories.)

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