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September 16, 2020

Rep. Pressley, 173 Members of Congress Urge DHS Inspector General to Immediately Open Investigation Into Startling Whistleblower Allegations Regarding High Rates of Hysterectomies Being Performed on Immigrant Women in Irwin County, Georgia

WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) today joined Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10),  Zoe Lofgen (CA-19), and more than 170 members of Congress in urging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to open an immediate investigation into new whistleblower allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on women detained at the privately-run Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. The lawmakers demanded an urgent response as well as a briefing on the status of an investigation by next Friday, Sept. 25. 

“We are horrified to see reports of mass hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facility without their full, informed consent and request. Everyone—regardless of their immigration status, their language, or their incarceration—deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies,” wrote the lawmakers. “We request that your office immediately open an investigation to thoroughly examine allegations raised.”

The letter follows alarms raised by a whistleblower and numerous immigrants who shared their concerns about the high rates of hysterectomies being performed, calling the facility an, “experimental concentration camp” and the doctor performing the procedures, “the uterus collector.” One immigrant  reported that she knew of five women who had hysterectomies within a three month period. The whistleblower complaint also raises questions as to whether there was proper, informed consent by many of the women. It details that several women did not know why they even went to a doctor.

The lawmakers’ letter also notes the abhorrent similarities between the allegations from the Irwin County Detention center and the United States’ shameful history of sterilization. More than 30 states passed eugenic-sterilization laws that disproportionately targeted people of color and incarcerated individuals. By the end of 1963, more than 3,000 individuals had been sterilized in Georgia alone as the state was responsible for the fifth highest number of sterilizations. This cruel practice has unfortunately continued into more recent times for incarcerated individuals. 

Today’s letter was signed by United States Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Pramila Jayapal, Judy Chu, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Colin Allred, Karen Bass, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, M.D., Donald S. Beyer Jr., Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Brendan F. Boyle, Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, G. K. Butterfield, Salud O. Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Matt Cartwright, Sean Casten, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, David Cicilline, Katherine Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, Ii, Steve Cohen, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, J. Luis Correa, Joe Courtney, Charlie Crist, Jason Crow, Danny K. Davis, Susan A. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter A. Defazio, Diana Degette, Rosa L. Delauro, Suzan Delbene, Val Demings, Mark Desaulnier, Ted Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Mike Doyle, Eliot Engel, Veronica Escobar, Anna G. Eshoo, Dwight Evans, Abby Finkenauer, Bill Foster, Lois Frankel, Marcia Fudge, Ruben Gallego, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Raul M. Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Denny Heck, Brian Higgins, Steven Horsford, Steny Hoyer, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Marcy Kaptur, William R. Keating, Robin L. Kelly, Joseph P. Kennedy, Iii, Ro Khanna, Daniel T. Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ann Mclane Kuster, Rick Larsen, John B. Larson, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Ted W. Lieu, Dave Loebsack, Alan Lowenthal, Nita M. Lowey, Elaine G. Luria, Stephen F. Lynch, Doris Matsui, Betty Mccollum, James P. Mcgovern, Jerry Mcnerney, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Joseph D. Morelle, Seth Moulton, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jimmy Panetta, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald M. Payne, Jr., Ed Perlmutter, Scott H. Peters, Dean Phillips, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, David E. Price, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Cedric L. Richmond, Harley Rouda, Lucille Roybal-Allard, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Linda T. Sánchez, John P. Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Bradley S. Schneider, Kim Schrier, M.D., Jose Serrano, Terri A. Sewell, Donna E. Shalala, Brad Sherman, Mike Sherrill, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Abigail D. Spanberger, Jackie Speier, Greg Stanton, Haley M. Stevens, Thomas R. Suozzi, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Bennie G. Thompson, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Norma J. Torres, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Lauren Underwood, Juan Vargas, Marc Veasey, Filemon Vela, Nydia M. Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Susan Wild, Frederica S. Wilson And John Yarmuth.

The full letter is available here