Lawmakers Concerned About GA Site 09/27 11:15
(AP) -- Several members of Congress called for a detention facility in
Georgia to be shut down pending investigation after women detainees told them
of being forced into unnecessary gynecological procedures with dirty equipment
that left serious infections amid conditions so unsanitary that some begged to
"This is a horror show, it truly is worse than I expected," Rep. Juan
Vargas, a California Democrat, said Saturday after talking to several detainees
on the visit to the Irwin County Detention Center, where both detainees for the
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and inmates for the U.S. Marshals
Service are housed
While many of the allegations made by the women centered on Dr. Mahendra
Amin, a gynecologist accused of performing surgeries without their consent,
members of the Congressional delegation recounted stories about conditions and
treatment that extended beyond those accusations --- starting with the alleged
failure to take even the most basic steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
They said, for example, that the women reported they were issued one paper
mask and were forced to wear it for weeks at a time before they were finally
given new masks the day before at least 10 members of Congress paid a visit.
"They make their living by feasting off the misery of detainees, so
cost-cutting is the norm here," Rep. Hank Johnson, Jr., a Georgia Democrat,
said of the facility operated by LaSalle Corrections.
They also reported accounts of unsanitary and filthy conditions that put the
detainees at risk of becoming seriously ill. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a California
Democrat who is also an emergency physician, said he saw in shower stalls the
kind of black mold that can cause or exacerbate serious pulmonary diseases.
But much of what they were told reiterated the allegations of other women
held at the facility who have come forward complaining that Amin performed
hysterectomies and other procedures that they did not understand or agree to.
Many of the allegations against the doctor were first revealed in a recent
complaint filed by a nurse at the detention center, Dawn Wooten, who alleged
that many detained women were taken to an unnamed gynecologist whom she labeled
the "uterus collector" because of how many hysterectomies he performed.
The Associated Press subsequently reported that at least eight women since
2017 had been taken to see Amin for gynecological treatment, though it did not
find evidence of mass hysterectomies as alleged in the complaint. Andrew Free,
an attorney taking part in an investigation of medical care at the detention
center, said a team of lawyers had heard concerns about the doctor from dozens
Bryan Cox, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
confirmed that Amin would no longer be seeing patients from the detention
center, but declined to comment further, citing an ongoing investigation by the
Department of Homeland Security's inspector general.
Johnson told of a woman who recounted recounted being shackled, taken to
Irwin County Hospital and undergoing a procedure she did not consent to. "She
woke up shackled, crying, hurting, discharged and brought back to Irwin ... and
just thrown back into a cell and forced to recuperate that way," Johnson said.
Ruiz said he was told of women who, in apparent retaliation for speaking out
about conditions at the facility, were treated "roughly" by staffers and told
they had COVID-19. Ruiz said he was told some were placed in isolation for as
long as 30 days --- far longer, he said, than necessary to quarantine for the
Ruiz said he was told that women refused to even ask for medical treatment
out of fear they would be told, like others, that they had an ovarian cyst
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan of California said she heard the same kinds of
stories over and over again that revealed a pattern in which Amin would give
women an ultrasound they did not consent to.
"They are told there is a cyst that needs to be operated on," she said.