Health Policy

September 17, 2020: Statement on the Forced Sterilizations in Georgia ICE Facility

Posted on September 17, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Brutality against women who are not rich, not white, not native English speakers, and who have no advocates outside the prison facility has erupted in Ocilla, Georgia in an ICE “detention facility” AKA prison. The LaSalle South Corrections Center is run as a private (for profit) prison, which is part of the Irwin County Detention Center.

A courageous nurse, Dawn Wooten, is the whistleblower who noted both that multiple detainees had had hysterectomies without their consent and who stated they had not understand the reasons for their hysterectomies.

The hysterectomies were done by Dr. Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist from the Coffee Region Medical Center, who had been charged with Medicare and Medicaid billing fraud in 2015. The settlement with Georgia prosecutors exceeded $500,000. But the facility has continued to refer female patients to Dr. Amin for all gynecologic concerns.

Ms. Wooten reported her concerns to “Project South,” a prison watchdog group. Other groups are also following this story including Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and the Immigrant Support Network. The matter has also been reported to the Office of the Attorney General of Homeland Security. US Representative Pramila Jayapal recently visited the facility and spoke to some of the women. We can assume she will continue investigating every one the women’s concerns, and will seek redress.

Tragically, forced sterilization of women imprisoned in mental hospitals, facilities for the handicapped, or migrant centers is not new. Hysterectomies are a lucrative source of income for physicians, and in addition not having to purchase menstrual products or provide birth control for inmates saves money for the detention centers.

Preventing the spread of COVID in the LaSalle Correction Center is similarly substandard—sparse COVID testing, secrecy, PPE shortages, and general lack of cleanliness are standard. Tragically, our overall disdain for fellow humans seen as “other” has hardened too many souls.

— Karen Pataky, Director for Public Policy and Chair, Health Policy Task Force 

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