Call for Full Investigation into Medical Care of Women Detainees

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  • October 01, 2020

AMWA Acts Quickly to Raise Concerns about Allegations of  Gynecologic Procedures at ICE Facilities

Claims that some women who are being held in detention have undergone reproductive surgical procedures without their prior knowledge or consent have been levied against the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia.

These allegations of insufficient medical care exacerbated by Covid-19, coupled with echoes of possible medical experimentation raised in a whistleblower complaint, must be thoroughly investigated to assure against a repeat of the historic contraceptive coercion and medical experimentation of Black, Latina, and Indigenous women, as well as inmates.

AMWA Advocates for Excellence in Healthcare for All

Given our mission—to strive for excellence in healthcare for all—the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) supports the call initiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional leaders for the Department of Homeland Security to launch a full investigation of the concerns raised by a former nurse at ICDC who attested that these detainees underwent unwarranted reproductive procedures.

A full review of the treatment of women detainees at the Ocilla ICDC is necessary. There are concerns that ICDC may have capitalized on an unfamiliarity with the US health system and language barriers to further dispossess them of their rights to medical self-determination should be done.

Informed consent is a fundamental right that protects an individual’s ability to consider whether to accept or deny medical procedures, and this includes their rights to reproductive care. Before Informed medical consent is granted, patients must be told of any and all benefits, risks, and alternatives in the language most comfortable for the patient.

AMWA denounces any acts of forced sterilization and medical procedures conducted without obtaining a patient’s prior consent. AMWA considers this a basic human right to all. It should be noted that a hysterectomy is not only a form of sterilization, there are also lifelong medical implications arising with the occurrence of forced early menopause, including increased risks of heart disease and osteoporosis.

As such, AMWA supports an investigation into the claims levied against the ICDC, and endorses passage of the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act to affirm that anyone held against their will within these United States is treated with common decency and gets appropriate medical care.

Extending the organization’s statement regarding the Need for Consent Even Among Immigrants, Emily Wagner, MD, a member of the AMWA Advocacy team, had an editorial published in the Minneapolis (Minnesota) Star-Tribune. 

AMWA Joins ACOG in Support Joint Statement 

Recognizing the value of raising our voice as part of a collective of professional organizations, the American Medical Women’s Association has also signed on to a joint statement on reports of hysterectomies performed without consent organized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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