MONTERREY, Mexico, Weds. Sept 30, 2020 (Reuters) – Mexico’s Foreign Ministry says it has identified a Mexican woman who underwent a hysterectomy while detained at a U.S. immigration facility in Georgia.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the woman had undergone a “gynecological surgical intervention.” It said the medical case file provided by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) agency did not include documentation showing that she had consented to the procedure.
It did not give details about the procedure, but said it was not a hysterectomy.
The ministry also said it had interviewed seven other Mexican women currently or recently detained at the Georgia facility who said they had had interactions with a doctor accused of conducting improper hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures. None of the seven said they had undergone hysterectomies, the ministry said.
Earlier this month, a complaint by a whistleblower nurse alleged medical abuse within the Georgia detention center facility, including unauthorized hysterectomies, a surgery to remove the uterus. Reuters interviewed the nurse, Dawn Wooten, but could not independently confirm the claims.
On Tuesday, ICE’s press office pointed to a statement issued by the agency’s acting head Tony Pham from earlier this month in which he called for further investigation, acknowledging the “serious concerns” raised by the allegations.
“Individuals found to have violated our policies and procedures should be held accountable,” the statement added.
ICE Health Service Corps said in a statement earlier this month that since 2018 only two individuals at the Irwin center in Georgia were referred for hysterectomies, based on approved recommendations by specialists. The contractor that runs the facility has said it strongly refutes the allegations and any implications of misconduct.
Democratic U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal told reporters on a conference call on Saturday that she had visited the facility and spoken to eight women who told her they had been the subject of forced or coerced procedures, including partial or full sterilization.
She said the women also told her they had been shackled during the procedures.
(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener and Mica Rosenberg; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Michael Perry and Rosalba O’Brien)