A nurse at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Ocilla, Ga., claimed in a whistleblower complaint Monday that female detainees have been subjected to a troublingly high number of hysterectomies while in custody, reports Vox. The complaint was filed by nurse Dawn Wooten in cooperation with a coalition of immigrant rights groups led by Project South, a nonprofit activist group. The complaint accuses the Irwin County Detention Center, operated by the private prison contractor LaSalle Corrections, of a litany of health and safety violations. Its most explosive claim is that immigrant women held there are subjected to hysterectomies, which it says are performed unusually frequently.
The detainees, many of whom have limited English skills, were allegedly sent to a gynecologist outside the facility who performed the hysterectomies, often without them fully understanding why they were getting the procedure done. One woman was told it was because she had a “thick womb” or “heavy bleeding,” even though she had never experienced heavy bleeding or been told by a doctor that she had a thick womb. “Several immigrant women” told Project South about the hysterectomies. One woman, who is not named in the complaint, told the nonprofit that she talked to five immigrants who had the procedure done between October and December 2019. The doctor was identified as Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist associated with Coffee Regional Medical Center and Irwin County Hospital in Georgia. In 2015, he and several other doctors reached a more than $500,000 civil settlement with Georgia prosecutors to resolve allegations that they submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid and Medicare.