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Unpacking the Explosive Allegation That a “Uterus Collector” Is Terrorizing Immigrant Women

Allegations surfaced late Monday that—among other alleged abuses of detained immigrants at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia—female detainees are being given forced hysterectomies without their consent. The allegation comes from a complaint filed on behalf of a nurse who worked in the detention center, by the nonprofit Project South, along with three other nonprofits, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network. The allegations in the complaint, which was directed at the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, are shocking and disturbing. Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower and a former nurse at ICDC, said that she was concerned that many women had received the procedure without being spoken to in their native language or being told why they were getting the surgery. The story elicited calls for investigation, due to the horror of the allegations and the limited corroboration for the claims that immigrants had indeed received the hysterectomies without proper process.

The complaint was first reported by LawandCrime.com, a website run by attorney and television personality Dan Abrams. That report is entirely sourced from the filed complaint and mostly focuses on the lack of proper COVID-19 protocols, but the LawandCrime.com headline focused on the alleged sterilizations—“ ‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center.” The story was widely shared on Monday night, and as of Tuesday, multiple other news outlets covered the allegations. Thus far, no one has obtained direct corroboration from women who allege they were forced into a hysterectomy. On Tuesday night, the Intercept published a story on the allegations around the hysterectomies that quoted several anonymous women staying at ICDC who shared stories about how they felt they had been pressured into having a hysterectomy, and who noted that they were frequently forced to go without an interpreter, but it was unclear if they had gone through with the procedure.

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