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Condemning Forced Sterilization; Upholding Human Rights

The Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP) stands strongly against the forced sterilization of any individual, including people who are currently incarcerated in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers across the country. We condemn the egregious human rights violations and eugenicist practices that have occurred and continue to occur at the hands of clinicians and within systems of social control, such as immigration detention centers, prisons, and psychiatric institutions

Forced sterilization and other acts of reproductive violence are not new experiences for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and people with disabilities in this country. The US has a long history of deeming who is disposable and unworthy of bodily autonomy, dignity, and reproduction. The US has allowed — and continues to allow — the medical system to experiment with and coerce Black, Brown, and disabled communities in the name of medicine and population control. This includes abusive experimentation on enslaved Black women, testing birth control pills on and sterilizing Puerto Rican women, coercively sterilizing immigrant Mexican women giving birth in Los Angeles hospitals, state laws that still allow people with developmental and physical disabilities to be sterilized without their consent, forced sterilization of thousands of Indigenous women by the Indian Health Service, and countless other violations of  Black, Brown, and disabled bodies. 

On September 14, 2020, news broke that at the Irwin County Detention Center, operated by LaSalle Corrections, in Ocilla, Georgia, detained immigrants have been subject to forced hysterectomies by Dr. Mahendra Amin without proper consent. The filed complaint describes that this detention center denied medical care, falsified medical records, and violated basic COVID-19 health and safety protocol for staff, health care workers, and those detained. This attack on bodily autonomy and dignity is in direct violation of basic health care ethics, including  informed consent and patient-centered care. The health care system must not stand for such violating,  racist practices. ICE must be held accountable for the full-range of violence and oppression they inflict upon immigrants. This abuse and cruelty is the product of an intentionally racist system that goes far beyond one doctor and one facility. However, together, we can start building a society free from ICE’s cruelty where all people and families are treated with dignity and respect.

We thank Dawn Wooten, a Black nurse who worked at this detention center and courageously came forward at great risk to her life, family, and career to bear witness to  these systematic human rights violations occurring within the United States government. We stand in solidarity with her and demand that she receive full whistleblower protections.  

RHAP acknowledges that, as a reproductive health care organization, we are part of this oppressive medical system. It is critical that we recognize the space we take up and the imbalance of power in the clinician-patient relationship. It is our responsibility to listen to and follow the leadership of immigrant rights groups, reproductive justice organizations, and the voices of communities most impacted. We must ensure that our community members are educated and using their privilege and power to speak out against this disturbing abuse of power. To that end, we have joined Sister Song’s working group focused on addressing this issue, we are organizing within American Public Health Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians to ensure these organizations uphold the highest medical standards and ethics; we are educating our membership on the history and current practices of eugenics, including forced sterilization and we are mobilizing our clinicians, especially those in Georgia, to take action locally. 

We urge you to join us in speaking out against these human rights violations and unethical medical practices in ICE detention centers.

  1. Educate yourself on the history of eugenics, forced sterilization, and other forms of reproductive coercion that have persisted throughout US history and our present
  2. Donate to Dawn Wooten’s GoFundMe.
  3. Sign Sister Song’s call to action “to dismantle and rebuild every system that causes harm to our bodies, our families, and our communities.”
  4. Call your Senators and urge them to defund ICE.
  5. Attend September 25, 2020 #FreeTheFamilies Online Silent Vigil 
  6. Follow and contribute to the conversation on social media: 
    1. Facebook: Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, South Georgia Immigrant Support Network
    2. Instagram: @projectsouthatl,, @sogaisnetwork
    3. Twitter: @ProjectSouth, @GADetWatch, @GLAHR_ @ashahshahani 
    4. Recommended Hashtags: #ShutDownIrwin, #FreethemAll, #FreetheFamilies #AbolishICE 

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