A Whistleblower Alleges: Mass Hysterectomies at Ice Detention Center

A Whistleblower Alleges: Mass Hysterectomies at Ice Detention Center September 14, 2020

I know that there’s a lot to think about right now. There has been plenty of horror on everyone’s minds this year, and there’s so much tragedy and trauma on the news that we’re all losing track. But I’ve come across a news story that must not be allowed to fly below the radar. Everyone needs to be aware that this is happening, and we all have to speak out against it.

I want to draw your attention to a whistleblower complaint being filed on behalf of a nurse at an ICE detention center. The entire complaint can be read here.

The complaint alleges that an inordinately large number of women at a detention facility in Irwin County, Georgia, were subjected to hysterectomies. They had all or part of their uteruses removed, sometimes without any attempt to get consent except by “googling Spanish.” Some say they were told they were getting a procedure to drain a cyst or to relieve heavy menstruation, despite not having those symptoms, only to be told it would be a hysterectomy later. They were confused as to why the procedure was necessary. Some were verbally abused by nurses when they asked questions. One was subjected to a procedure without proper anesthesia.


The whistleblower, a nurse named Dawn Wooten, reports that detainees were consistently referred to the same gynecologist who would always order a hysterectomy.

“Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody,” said Wooten. “everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad.”

This is genocide.

I’m not speaking euphemistically for effect when I say “genocide.” Sterilization through a hysterectomy is genocide. It’s long been a tactic in America’s shameful history of eugenics. Compulsory sterilization is a crime against humanity. 

I have been criticized for comparing the immigrant detention facilities to concentration camps, but I’m not taking that back. Especially now that we have evidence the United States is sterilizing prisoners detained there. We shouldn’t be surprised; after all, the Nazis were inspired by American eugenicists in the first place. Now it’s happening again.

I feel at a loss for words to express how wrong it is that the United States is forcibly sterilizing detained immigrants who came to us for help. It’s one of those things you absolutely shouldn’t have to say. It should be obvious. but it’s not.

This is wrong. It’s cruel. It’s unnecessary. It’s a crime.  And I’m afraid that it will go unnoticed in all of this year’s chaos.

There’s so much to take in this year, I’m afraid our horrific treatment of immigrants who come to us for help is getting pushed out of the public eye. But I have to remind you: immigrants are still being kept in inhumane conditions– indeed, worse than the ones that outraged us so much a year or two ago, because now they’re being kept there during wildfires, hurricanes and a pandemic. Things have gotten worse for them, not better. And today, we have evidence of what we might have suspected: they are being subjected to genocide by sterilization.

This isn’t a partisan issue. Right now, this is happening on Donald Trump’s watch. But it would be wrong if Biden or Obama or Clinton or Bush did it as well. America has always had a shameful history of our treatment of migrants and minorities no matter who’s in charge, and now it’s happening again.

I am begging my readers: talk about this story. Share it. Let everyone know. Speak out against it every way you can. Vote, and let your representatives know that immigration and eugenics are issues you won’t forget about.

This is a horrendous crime.

It has to be stopped.



Image via Wikimedia Commons

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross

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