173 Members of Congress Urge DHS Inspector General to Immediately Open Investigation Into Startling Whistleblower Allegations Regarding High Rates of Hysterectomies Being Performed on Immigrant Women in Irwin County, Georgia

September 16, 2020
Press Release
“We request that your office immediately open an investigation to thoroughly examine allegations raised.”

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Zoe Lofgen (CA-19) led 173 members of Congress today in urging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to open an immediate investigation into new whistleblower allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on women detained at the privately-run Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. The lawmakers demanded an urgent response as well as a briefing on the status of an investigation by next Friday, Sept. 25. 

“We are horrified to see reports of mass hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facility without their full, informed consent and request. Everyone—regardless of their immigration status, their language, or their incarceration—deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies,” wrote the lawmakers. “We request that your office immediately open an investigation to thoroughly examine allegations raised.”

The letter follows alarms raised by a whistleblower and numerous immigrants who shared their concerns about the high rates of hysterectomies being performed, calling the facility an, “experimental concentration camp” and the doctor performing the procedures, “the uterus collector.” One immigrant  reported that she knew of five women who had hysterectomies within a three month period. The whistleblower complaint also raises questions as to whether there was proper, informed consent by many of the women. It details that several women did not know why they even went to a doctor.

The lawmakers’ letter also notes the abhorrent similarities between the allegations from the Irwin County Detention center and the United States’ shameful history of sterilization. More than 30 states passed eugenic-sterilization laws that disproportionately targeted people of color and incarcerated individuals. By the end of 1963, more than 3,000 individuals had been sterilized in Georgia alone as the state was responsible for the fifth highest number of sterilizations. This cruel practice has unfortunately continued into more recent times for incarcerated individuals. 

The full letter is available here