Recent ICE Allegations of Mass Hysterectomies

What occured in a detention center in Georgia in 2020?

On September 14, 2020, Dawn Wooten filed a whistle-blower complaint against a U.S. immigration detention center in Irwin County in Ocilla, Georgia, where she is a nurse and employee [1]. The complaint regarded reports of forced sterilizations by Dr. Mahendra Amin on women under the custody of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Wooten stated that Dr. Amin had performed multiple hysterectomies on women whose first language is not English, and they were either not informed or asked consent for the surgeries performed on them [1]. The women told Wooten that the women address Dr. Amin as the "uterus collector" and were sent to solitary confinement when they spoke out against his actions [3]. 

Dawn Wooten's Words

Words spoken by Wooten to the press. 

Anecdotes of women within the detention center:

Case 1: A 36-year-old immigrant from Mexcio, Yuridia, requested to seek medical aid shortly after she arrived at the center due to experiencing pain in one of her rib cages [2]. She was sent to Dr. Amin's office to receive a physical exam, and she said he prepared an ultrasound machine, which she believed occurred to examine her rib cage. However Dr. Amin did a vaginal exam on her without her consent, and he documented that Yuridia had cysts in her ovaries that needed to be surgically removed and scheduled the surgery for her [2]. Dr. Amin also reported that Yuridia stated she had pelvic pain and a heavy menstruation cycle. Yuridia told Wooten that she never said either statement [2]. 

After Yuridia underwent surgery for "cysts on her ovaries," reports showed that she did not have cysts that were dangerous to her health on her ovaries [2]. She had normal cysts on her ovaries that did not require surgical removal. She asserted she woke up to three cuts on her abdomen, and a piece of skin was removed from her genital area. Yuridia was made sterilized without her consent. 

Case 2: A young detained woman was sent to Dr. Amin to get her left ovary surgically removed due to a cyst she had, but he ended up extracting her right ovary [3]. Therefore, the woman had to go back to him to get her left ovary removed, which resulted in her becoming infertile. The woman recalls she heard Dr. Amin inform the nurse in the room during her surgery that he removed the incorrect ovary. She expressed she wanted to have children, and due to Dr. Amin's surgical skills, she can no longer bear children [3]. 

Project South's Complaint

Documentation of whistle-blower complaint by Project South and Dawn Wooten. 

Information included in the whistle-blower complaint:


“Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network file this complaint on behalf of detained immigrants at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) operated by the private prison company, LaSalle Corrections; and Ms. Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse employed by ICDC, who is a protected whistleblower and is represented by the Government Accountability Project and Project South.” [4]

“This complaint and Ms. Wooten’s accompanying Declaration (which is incorporated by reference) document recent accounts of jarring medical neglect at ICDC including refusal to test detained immigrants for COVID-19 who have been exposed to the virus and are symptomatic, shredding of medical requests submitted by detained immigrants, and fabricating medical records. In addition, this complaint raises red flags regarding the rate at which hysterectomies are performed on immigrant women under ICE custody at ICDC.” [4]

“D) Detained immigrants and ICDC nurses report high rates of hysterectomies done to immigrant women. 

Several immigrant women have reported to Project South their concerns about how many women have received a hysterectomy while detained at ICDC. One woman told Project South in 2019 that Irwin sends many women to see a particular gynecologist outside the facility but that some women did not trust him. She also stated that “a lot of women here go through a hysterectomy” at ICDC. More recently, a detained immigrant told Project South that she talked to five different women detained at ICDC between October and December 2019 who had a hysterectomy done.” [4]


[1] Flores, Jerry. “ICE Detainees' Alleged Hysterectomies Recall a Long History of Forced Sterilizations.” The Conversation, September 28, 2020.

[2] Dickerson, Caitlin, Seth Freed Wessler, and Miriam Jordan. “Immigrants Say They Were Pressured Into Unneeded Surgeries.” The New York Times. The New York Times, September 29, 2020.  

[3] Grant, Melissa Gira. “ICE Is the New Face of America's Legacy of Forced Sterilization.” The New Republic, September 17, 2020.


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