Lawyer Of Detained Women Says Doctor Treated Them Without Informed Consent
Three lawyers who have represented women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia say their clients were abused by a gynecologist, including one attorney who says her clients received treatment without understanding what was happening, according to NBC News.
The issue came to light after nurse Dawn Wooten alleged in a whistleblower complaint detainees were not receiving adequate medical care related to COVID-19 and that an unusual number of women were receiving hysterectomies.
Dr. Mahendra Amin has been identified as the doctor performing the gynecological procedures on detainees.
Attorney Elizabeth Mathren, who represented several women who saw Amin through during her time with the Southern Poverty Law Center from 2017 to 2019, said she brought their complaints to detention facility managers.
"Two to three years ago, I had a face-to-face conversation with (someone in management). I was so disturbed. I begged her to get my client treatment with a different doctor. I told her I had heard from multiple people that he was rough, that they were scared to go to him, that they didn't understand what he was doing," said Elizabeth Mathren, who represented several women through her work with the Southern Poverty Law Center beginning in 2017.
Benjamin Osorio, a lawyer who also has represented women at ICDC, “said two of his clients received hysterectomies that they believe may have been unnecessary.”
One of the women, who is of child-bearing age, was told she needed to have a hysterectomy after Amin found ovarian cysts, Osorio said. She was advised that they were cancerous, but her records indicate she was not given a biopsy to confirm the cancer, he said. In another case, he said, his client was told she had stage 4 cervical cancer and would need a hysterectomy and chemotherapy. But after her hysterectomy, an oncologist in Charlotte said she did not have cancer, according to Osorio.
NBC News reported that "Another lawyer, Sarah Owings, said she has heard of many women who are told they have ovarian cysts that need to be removed or drained."
"I don’t think this is necessarily a systemic sterilization by ICE. I think this is the kind of thing that is allowed to flourish in the course of poor oversight and terrible, inhumane conditions of confinement," said Owings.
In response to the lawyers' allegations, Ada Rivera, medical director of the ICE Health Service Corps, said: "All female ICE detainees receive routine, age-appropriate gynecological and obstetrical health care, consistent with recognized community guidelines for women’s health services."
"According to U.S. Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) data, since 2018, only two individuals at Irwin County Detention Center were referred to certified, credentialed medical professionals at gynecological and obstetrical health care facilities for hysterectomies in compliance with National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) standards. Based on their evaluations, these specialists recommended hysterectomies. These recommendations were reviewed by the facility clinical authority and approved."
She added, "Out of respect for the process of matters pending before the OIG, ICE does not comment prematurely on reported allegations, and ICE intends to fully cooperate with any resulting investigation by the OIG."