Washington, D.C. — In a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility operated by the private corporation LaSalle Corrections, details gross human rights abuses in the facility. The complaint includes allegations of medical neglect, dangerous practices in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and startling claims of coerced, mass hysterectomies.
Reports of mass hysterectomies and medical neglect in ICE detention are horrifying but sadly not surprising. The United States has a long and sordid history of reproductive coercion and forced sterilization, particularly targeting Black, Latina, and Native American women as well as women with disabilities and incarcerated women. These racist, eugenicist practices are often sanctioned by U.S. law, which to this day allows for the sterilization of anyone deemed “unfit.” Furthermore, abuses of women’s health and rights in immigration detention are nothing new. Detention facilities routinely deny adequate health care and inflict abuse and neglect, from lack of maternal health care to limits on reproductive autonomy to sexual abuse. The Trump administration has gone to great lengths to deny reproductive freedom to people in immigration custody, including rolling back the presumption that pregnant women generally should not be detained and taking steps to deny young women the right to an abortion.