Allegations of unwanted Ice hysterectomies recall grim time in US history

Allegations of unwanted Ice hysterectomies recall grim time in US history

Originally Published in The Guardian

Miranda Bryant - September 21, 2020

A report claims women in immigration centers are being given unnecessary procedures that can leave them unable to conceive. The story is all too familiar.

Dawn Wooten, left, was behind a whistleblower report on conditions at Irwin county detention center in GeorgiaDawn Wooten, left, was behind a whistleblower report on conditions at Irwin county detention center in Georgia. Photograph: Jeff Amy/AP

Pauline Binam asked to see a doctor because she was having abnormalities with her period. After nearly two years in immigration detention, she was worried that it was having an adverse effect on her health.

The doctor told her that she had a cyst on her ovary and she agreed to a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, her lawyer said. But when she awoke from surgery, the doctor told her that one of her fallopian tubes had been removed – a procedure she is adamant she did not give consent for – and that as a result she may no longer be able to conceive naturally. At the time she was just 29.

Her immigration attorney Vân Huynh, told the Guardian: “When she first learned about it, the way that she described it to me is that she was sitting in this wheelchair post operation and the doctor’s telling her that she may not be able to conceive children in the future and it was very upsetting for her. She was sobbing in this wheelchair, not understanding why this was happening.”

Her account is in one of multiple harrowing allegations of women held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) at Irwin county detention center in Georgia who have been forced to undergo unwanted hysterectomies and other unnecessary gynaecological procedures. Their stories have come to light in recent days following the release of an explosive whistleblower report.

Binam, a 30-year-old national of Cameroon who has lived in the US since she was two, was narrowly saved from deportation on Wednesday and is now in custody in Texas.

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