The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Georgia is reportedly the site of a involuntary sterilization project.
A whistleblower report published by the non-profit Project South alleges that large numbers of migrant women held at the Irwin county detention center, a privately run facility that imprisons undocumented immigrants, received hysterectomies that they did not want and which were not medically necessary.
A nurse working at the detention center, Dawn Wooten, describes the conditions there and conversations she had with imprisoned women in detail.
The women say they were not told why they were having hysterectomies, with some saying that they were given conflicting reasons for the procedures or reprimanded when asked about them. Wooten’s account in the Project South report was corroborated by two lawyers, who told NBC News that four women in the facility whom they represent, had been sterilized without medical cause and without their consent.
Doctors on behalf of the attorneys are examining new records and more women are coming forward to report their treatment.
Dr Julie Graves, a family medicine and public health physician in Florida, called the process “absolutely abhorrent”.
“It’s established US law that you don’t operate on everything that you find,” she said. “If you’re in a teaching hospital and an attending physician does something like that, it’s a scandal and they are fired.”
It evokes comparisons to previous government-sanctioned efforts in the US to sterilize people to supposedly improve society – victims who were disproportionately poor, mentally disabled, American Indian, Black or other people of color. Thirty-three states had forced sterilization programs in the 20th century.
Forced sterilizations like the ones that happened to women at the Irwin county center and to women throughout the nation during the 20th century are first and foremost human rights violations, cruel abridgements of those women’s dignity, autonomy and rights to self determination. But they are also statements of white supremacist hostility, an assertion by white racists of the thing they most hate and fear: new Americans of color.