The Government Accountability Project provides representation for whistleblowers, and Project South is a social justice organization. The complaint has also been signed by several immigrant business organizations: Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network.
The complaint, which also included a number of concerns about the facility̵
“The allegations in this whistleblower complaint point to an alarming pattern of precarious conditions and a lack of oversight of privately run ICE facilities,” the rep said. Bennie Thompson of the Mississippi, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, in a statement, adding that allegations of hysterectomy performed on women without consent are “incredibly disturbing.”
“Everyone he sees has a hysterectomy – almost everyone. He’s even taken the wrong ovary out on a young lady. [detained immigrant woman]. She had to remove her left ovary because it had a cyst in her left ovary; he took the right one out. She was sad. She had to go back to take the left out, and she ended up with a total hysterectomy, ”Wooten explains in the complaint.
“She still wanted children – so she has to go home now and tell her husband she can not bear children … she said she was not completely out of anesthesia and heard him [doctor] tell the nurse he took the wrong ovary, “she continued.
The complaint does not reveal the name of the gynecologist or the number of women allegedly forced to receive the procedure or when it took place. ICE said it did not comment on matters presented to the inspector.
“ICE takes all allegations seriously and addresses (Inspector General’s Office) regarding any potential investigation and / or findings. Having said that, anonymous, unsubstantiated allegations made without verifiable facts should generally be treated with appropriate skepticism, they deserve Said the agency.
Since 2018, only two people at the Irwin County Detention Center have been referred to certified, licensed medical professionals at gynecological and obstetric health facilities for hysterectomy, according to Dr. Ada Rivera, Medical Director of ICE Health Service Corps, referring to agency data. “Based on their evaluations, these specialists recommended hysterectomy. These recommendations were reviewed by the clinic’s authority and approved,” Rivera said in a statement.
Healthcare providers are selected by the facility from local community providers who are willing to accept ICE detainees as patients, an ICE official said, adding that in some cases the facility provider or clinical director may have community contacts that they routinely work with.
LaSalle Corrections, which operates the facility, did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Wooten did not elaborate on the allegations of hysterectomy during a press conference in Georgia on Tuesday. However, Priyanka Bhatt, a lawyer at Project South, said that over the years, “our coalition has heard from several women who have either had a hysterectomy or talked to other immigrants who have had a hysterectomy.”
A detained immigrant told Project South that she had spoken to five different women in the Irwin County detention center between October and December 2019 who had a hysterectomy.
“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought it was like an experimental concentration camp. It was as if they were experimenting with our bodies,” said the immigrant, whose name was not released by the organization.
Leeann Culbreath, co-founder and co-chair of the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, a humanitarian organization, recalled conversations with a handful of detained women in recent years who shared concerns about gynecological care.
“With alarming frequency, we hear about women who have received gynecological procedures,” Culbreath said. “Sometimes they were not given the opportunity to give consent to it.”
The anecdotes in the whistleblower complaint confirmed Culbreath’s concerns. “It confirmed my worst fears about what might happen here,” she told CNN.
Wooten describes talking to detained women who did not fully understand why they had the medical procedure.
“These immigrant women, I do not think they really, completely, all the way understand this what will happen, depending on who explains it to them,” Wooten said.
The complaint also alleges that the plant did not take the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of Covid-19, which ultimately motivated Wooten to come forward.
“I started asking questions about why the prisoners were not tested – symptomatic or asymptomatic,” Wooten said. “But what broke your back and the last straw then came in and lived it for yourself. Come to work and be told that even if you are tested, you can report when CDC guidelines say you should be home and a a medical certificate says you must be at home. “
Wooten’s allegations are similar to those popping up across the country from immigrants being held at ICE facilities, according to court documents, lawyers and other whistleblowers. They include treatment of Covid-19 symptoms with cold medication without a prescription, lack of social distance and transfers of detainees despite increased risk of spreading the virus.
According to the complaint, Wooten had “relied on ICDC guard David Paulk in March when the facility had its first Covid-19 case to stop all transfers of individuals in and out of the facility, but the guard did not listen.”
This story has been updated with further reporting and response.