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Texas

Calls For Closure, Investigation After Allegations Of Forced Hysterectomies At ICE Detention Center

ICEfacility.jpg
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT
A phone booth at an ICE detention center in Texas.

From Texas Standard:

In September, a disturbing report came out about alleged forced hysterectomies on women in custody at the Irwin County Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Georgia. A nurse named Dawn Wooten filed a whistleblower complaint about the practices at the privately run facility.

Now, more than 100 members of Congress, led by Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia, are calling for a congressional investigation.

Garcia, a Democrat from Houston, told Texas Standard that if true, the procedures are "some of the worst human rights violations" she's ever encountered.

Garcia traveled to Georgia to meet with some of the women detained there. She didn't speak directly with anyone who had been sterilized, as far as she knew. But she said some women may not have known what happened to them when they saw the gynecologist because medical staff didn't tell them what was going on. They weren't asked for consent, told what was happening or spoken to in their own language, Garcia said.

"They said, 'No, nobody explains anything to us,'" she said. "So we can't get to the answer until we have a full investigation."

Women have complained of poor treatment by gynecologist, Dr. Mahendra Amin, who is suspected of performing unnecessary procedures. Garcia said one woman told her he had put his hand into her vagina without a glove or medical instrument, and without explaining why.

If the allegations are true, Garcia suspects the motive has something to do with a fear that women are coming to the United States to have children as a way to stay in the county. She said President Donald Trump's immigration policies fuel that fear.

"I don't know what the motive is other than to control women's bodies," she said.

A resolution calling for an investigation passed in the U. S. House, and Garcia says she hopes the Judiciary Committee will have a hearing. In the meantime, she's calling for the facility to be shut down, for the women to be given medical care to determine what may have happened to them and to release them to their sponsors or families living in the United States.

"This is not the last word; we're not going to forget. I think about those women every day," she said.

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