Only women bleed

The view from the Manhattan hospital shortly after I checked in for my surgery.

As you’ve no doubt heard, a nurse who worked at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., has charged that an unusually high number of hysterectomies have been performed on immigrant women who are being held there after being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The center is run by a private company that operates similar facilities in three southern states, according to published news accounts.

The nurse, Dawn Wooten, filed a whistleblower complaint on Sept. 14. In its wake, a group of congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have called for an investigation. A top medical official with ICE has disputed Wooten’s claims.

Among her charges of medical mistreatment of immigrants at the facility is failure to take proper precautions for staff and detainees to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But the most horrific allegation concerns hysterectomies — irreversible surgical removal of the uterus — performed on migrant women. According to the complaint, Wooten and other nurses questioned the number of procedures being performed, as well as the ability of the women to fully comprehend and consent to the surgery.

Wooten referred to one doctor as “the uterus collector” and claimed that “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy.”

At its best, this is surgical malpractice. At its worst — and everything in this administration seems to be the worst — it’s genocide, and Amnesty International needs to get involved. These women have been deprived of future offspring by an administration that claims to be “pro-life.”

I said earlier that this was personal. Not just because I am a woman who hates the Trump Administration and everything it stands for, but because I am currently recovering from a hysterectomy myself, and I can literally feel the pain of these poor women.

My surgery was medically necessary, a determination that was reached after a series of tests. I chose my surgeon, a woman with sterling credentials who came highly recommended, and I gave my consent to the surgery after being thoroughly briefed.

I question whether any of the women in the Irwin County center underwent any testing, and I also wonder whether any pathology was done afterward on the organs that had been removed. Some of these procedures may in fact have been necessary, and those women might need follow-up treatment, but absent a pathology report, there is no way for them to know that.

I  was offered a chaplain, a social worker, and a list of support groups prior to my surgery. Were the detained women offered any type of counseling at all?

My surgery took place in a state-of the-art surgery center in Manhattan. I awoke in a private room with a stunning view of the 59th Street Bridge, and I spent the night listening to classic rock before being released the next day to my sister’s custody. What sort of post-op care are these migrant women getting? Is anyone fixing meals for them, giving them medication, helping them to the bathroom?

I was told not to lift anything over five pounds, not to bend and not to do housework for six weeks. Are the women in the detention center given the same advice? Are they being sent off, as I was, with a supply of pain medication and a list of possible complications to look out for, or are they simply tossed back into a cell and told to get on with it?

I think we know the answers to those questions. Now I want someone to answer for why my government is doing this in the first place.

5 thoughts on “Only women bleed

  1. The news of forced sterilisations/hysterectomies is shocking – eugenics in ugly action, if you look at the big picture – but absolutely excruciating to think of each of these women’s individual plight. Thanks for bringing that into focus – and all good wishes for your swift recovery.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Of course, I’m waiting for the folks who would say “it can’t happen here.”
    The problem is, according to recent studies, over half of Americans don’t know what the Holocaust was or think it was exaggerated or a hoax. Those folks would be saying “what can’t happen here?”
    The stories I’ve been reading the past 24 hours make me feel sick.

    Liked by 1 person

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