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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-21)

The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution today urgently condemning the unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures—including partial and full hysterectomies —performed on immigrant women without their full, informed consent at the private, for-profit Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. H.Res. 1153—co-sponsored by 225 members of Congress and 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)—also calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take a series of specific actions including immediately complying with all related investigations. 

“This resolution mandates a real investigation must happen but it also sends a clear message to doctors contracted by private, for-profit incarceration facilities everywhere that we will not stand by and allow you to treat people this way,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “We will not stand by and allow history to repeat itself—a shameful history of medical abuse targeting Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, immigrants, poor people and people with disabilities. The women at Irwin, those who have been released and those who have been deported are brave and resilient, and I want them to know that the United States Congress sees you, hears you and will never stop fighting for you.”

“Reports of unwanted medical procedures being performed on migrant women are heartbreaking and horrifying, and I’m glad we have passed this resolution condemning this appalling treatment,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Today, the House reaffirmed what we already knew – everyone has the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies, and ICE’s failure to protect the women in its care is unacceptable. Women have the right to make their own reproductive choices – women can choose when and if they get pregnant. Some of these women were planning to have children, but they no longer have that choice after they say they received hysterectomies and other gynecological surgeries without their consent while in ICE custody. Immediate action must be taken to hold accountable those responsible for performing these procedures and ensure women who have been subjected to this treatment are given the support they need.”

“It is imperative that we, as Members of Congress, fulfill our duty to the American people and get to the bottom of what happened to the women being held at the Irwin County Detention Center. Just because someone is an immigrant, is undocumented, or detained for deportation, it does not mean that they can be denied their due process rights under the laws of this land and the United States of America’s constitution,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “As a woman and a mother, I am appalled and horrified by what has been happening to these women at the Irwin County Detention Center, and I believe that we owe it to them to fully investigate their claims.” 

“This past weekend, several of my colleagues and I visited the Irwin ICE Detention Center, and what we heard and saw was outrageous and heartbreaking,” said Congresswoman Garcia. “We were told stories about how there are women in the facility who don’t understand what happened to their bodies. Another woman relayed how a doctor inserted his hands in her vagina without gloves. What these women were subjected to is assault, and we must all recognize it as such. Today’s resolution makes it absolutely clear that we condemn the unwanted and unnecessary medical procedures performed on these women, and we must fully investigate how this was allowed to happen. This is the worst human rights violation I have ever seen, and it is happening right here in America.” Congresswoman Garcia concluded, “We must put an end to this and ensure justice for every migrant woman whose body was violated without their full and informed consent.”

“The allegations of mass hysterectomies being forced on immigrant women have revealed gross human rights violations,” said Congresswoman Frankel. “Mass hysterectomies have a long and shameful history in the United States, and forced sterilization has been used to further white supremacy, ableism, and other forms of discrimination.”

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.

The resolution was endorsed by 54 organizations including the AFL-CIO; African Communities Together; Alianza Nacional de Campesinas; American Friends Service Committee; American Immigration Lawyers Association; Amnesty International USA; Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC ; Asian Pacific Institute on Gender- Based Violence; Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities; Center for Gender & Refugee Studies; Center for Victims of Torture; Church World Service; Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces; Freedom for Immigrants; Human Rights First; In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda; Jewish Women International; Justice for Migrant Women; MoveOn; NARAL; National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF); National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; National Council of Jewish Women; National Fair Housing Alliance; National Immigration Law Center; NETWORK lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Oxfam America; People’s Action; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Project On Government Oversight; Project South; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC); SPLC Action Fund; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; Tahirih Justice Center; UnidosUS; United We Dream; Women’s Refugee Commission; Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Atlanta; Church Council of Greater Seattle; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA); Georgia Detention Watch; Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR); Illinois Accountability Initiative; Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group (KhAAG); Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence; Mekong NYC; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Seattle Chapter; OneAmerica; Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center.

It was co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Sylvia Garcia, Ann McLane Kuster, Sheila Jackson Lee, Lois Frankel, Alma S. Adams, Pete Aguilar, Colin Allred, Cindy Axne, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, 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 Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Matt Cartwright, Ed Case, Sean Casten, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Gil Cisneros, Katherine Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, William “Lacy” Clay Jr., Emanuel Cleaver, II, James E. Clyburn, Steve Cohen, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, J. Luis Correa, Jim Costa, Joe Courtney, TJ Cox, Angie Craig, Charlie Crist, Jason Crow, Henry Cuellar, Sharice Davids, Susan Davis, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, Antonio Delgado, Val Demings, Mark DeSaulnier, Ted Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Michael F. Doyle, Eliot L. Engel, Veronica Escobar, Anna G. Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Abby Finkenauer, Lizzie Fletcher, Bill Foster, Marcia L. Fudge, Tulsi Gabbard, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Jesús “Chuy” García, Jimmy Gomez, Vicente Gonzalez, Josh Gottheimer, Al Green, Raúl M. Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Josh Harder, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Denny Heck, Brian Higgins, Jim Himes, Kendra Horn, Steven Horsford, Chrissy Houlahan, Jared Huffman, Hakeem Jeffries, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr., Marcy Kaptur, William R. Keating, Robin Kelly, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Ro Khanna, Dan Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Andy Kim, Ron Kind, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Conor Lamb, James R. Langevin, Rick Larsen, John B. Larson, Brenda L. Lawrence, Al Lawson, Barbara Lee, Susie Lee, Mike Levin, Andy Levin, Ted W. Lieu, David Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Nita M. Lowey, Ben Ray Luján, Elaine Luria, Stephen F. Lynch, Tom Malinowski, Carolyn B. Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Doris Matsui, Lucy McBath, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Kweisi Mfume, Gwen S. Moore, Joseph D. Morelle, Seth Moulton, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Richard E. Neal, Joe Neguse, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tom O’Halleran, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Chris Pappas, Bill Pascrell Jr., Donald M. Payne Jr., Ed Perlmutter, Scott H. Peters, Dean Phillips, Chellie Pingree, Stacey Plaskett, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, David Price, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Kathleen M. Rice, Cedric Richmond, Max Rose, Harley Rouda, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Raul Ruiz, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Linda T. Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Brad Schneider, Kim Schrier, David Scott, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, José E. Serrano, Terri Sewell, Donna Shalala, Brad Sherman, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires, Elissa Slotkin, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Abigail Spanberger, Jackie Speier, Greg Stanton, Haley Stevens, Thomas R. Suozzi, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Bennie G. Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul D. Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Xochitl Torres Small, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Lauren Underwood, Juan Vargas, Marc Veasey, Filemon Vela, Nydia M. Velázquez, Peter Visclosky, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Jennifer Wexton, Susan Wild, Frederica Wilson and John Yarmuth.

The full resolution is available here. 

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