10.02.20

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds House Passage of Resolution Condemning Unwanted, Medical Procedures Performed On Immigrant Women Without Their Consent at Georgia Detention Center

Washington, DC  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) today released the following statement applauding the passage of H.Res. 1153, legislation condemning the unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures—including hysterectomies —performed on immigrant women without their informed consent at the private, for-profit Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. 

This bill was co-sponsored by 225 members of Congress, including Congresswoman Lee, and was led by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) and Lois Frankel (FL-21). It also calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take a series of specific actions including immediately complying with all related investigation 

“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, I strongly condemn the use of forced sterilization and eugenics at any detention facility in the United States. Coerced sterilization is a violation of basic human rights and is a crime against humanity.  

“Today, the House passed a resolution to urgently condemn these horrific actions, pause deportations, and ensure individuals impacted are able to freely participate in an investigation. This is a crucial step toward investigating the horrific allegations in the whistle-blower complaint.” 

The full resolution is available here

Background: 

The resolution passed less than one week after members of the House Judiciary Committee and Congressional Hispanic Caucus led a Congressional Delegation to the Irwin County Detention Center. It was there that they heard firsthand from numerous women who had unnecessary gynecological procedures—including surgeries involving their reproductive organs—performed on them by Dr. Mahendra Amin without their knowledge or consent. Many of the procedures resulted in sterilization. Today’s resolution also comes just one week after lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf calling on him to urgently take specified actions and immediately respond to a set of pressing document requests. Additionally, 173 members of Congress urged DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to open an immediate and full investigation in mid-September. 

Investigative reporting by the New York Times released this week confirmed that Dr. Amin consistently performed surgeries on immigrant women’s reproductive organs, “even when it did not seem medically necessary at the time and nonsurgical treatment options were available.” The Times found striking similarities in the medical records and patient files they reviewed, and medical experts concluded that there is a, “pattern of excessively aggressive surgical intervention without adequate trial of medical remedies." This new reporting was consistent with what at least five attorneys told Representative Jayapal during a Sept. 16 legal briefing after the initial release of Dawn Wooten’s whistleblower report.  

Today’s resolution condemns performing unwanted and unnecessary medical procedures without the full, informed consent of individuals. It also recognizes that everyone deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies. Additionally, the resolution says that further accountability, oversight and transparency is necessary to protect people in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

The resolution also calls on DHS to take a series of specific actions, including pausing the removal of any individual who experienced any medical procedure at the Irwin County Detention Center and allowing individuals who may have experienced an unnecessary or non-consensual procedure to have immediate access to adequate, safe and consensual medical treatment. Additionally, it calls on DHS to immediately comply with all related investigations and records requests related while ensuring affected individuals are able to freely participate in any investigation without fear of reprisal. Finally, the resolution demands that DHS hold all individuals involved in these incidents accountable and bring them to justice.