The Prisoner Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party commends the heroic action of Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse, for exposing forced sterilizations at the Irwin County, Georgia ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) Detention Center operated by LaSalle Corrections, a private for-profit prison.
Project South, one of the advocacy groups involved in gathering the facts, states that there was an “inordinate rate at which women in ICDC were subjected to hysterectomies.” (projectsouth.org)
One woman reported to Project South that she was not properly anesthetized. In addition, “many of the immigrant women who underwent the procedure were reportedly confused when asked to explain why they had surgery.”
This is in direct violation of a patient’s right to informed consent. The American Medical Association describes an informed consent as “fundamental in both ethics and the law.” The medical staff is responsible for relating the details of a procedure — including risks, side effects and expected outcomes — in a manner which takes into account the patient’s level of understanding and preferred method of learning. The burden of obtaining an informed consent lies with the physician performing the procedure.
Ms. Wooten, who is African American, took a courageous stand when she blew the whistle on abuse she witnessed against migrants at this facility. Wooten told the press she was demoted and reprimanded because of her speaking out. Women who complained about their treatment were put into isolation at the detention center.
These hysterectomies are racist in character, and they constitute a war on a woman’s and a gender-oppressed person’s right to control their own bodies.
This attack also exposes the state violence in the forms of ICE and the Border Patrol; unimaginable terror is carried out on a daily basis against migrants and refugees, who have been forced to come to the U.S. due to imperialist plunder and exploitation in their homelands.
Detention centers are nothing more than concentration camps for women, children, the poor and people of color. What happened in Georgia is genocidal in nature. It is another example of the inhumane violations the U.S. government continues to use against Indigenous, Black and Brown people, here and abroad.
We call for the medical license of the doctor who performed the surgeries to be immediately revoked and his practice to be shuttered. An independent criminal investigation must be conducted, and abuses prosecuted. We demand compensation and freedom for all victims.
Our committee is in solidarity with Dawn Wooten. Her bold actions exemplify Black, Brown and Indigenous unity. All retaliation against Ms. Wooten must cease.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the Department of Homeland Security should be abolished now.
Abolish ICE! Abolish prisons! Tear down the walls!