The Long, Disgraceful History of American Attacks on Brown and Black Women's Reproductive Systems - 2020-09-17
Forced sterilization of poor women of color is an American tradition. Rightful public fury has followed allegations this week that hysterectomies were performed on numerous women imprisoned at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Irwin County Detention Center. According to a whistleblower, a nurse at the facility, the women "reacted confused" when they learned what had been done to their bodies. The allegations produced a flood of commentary. Some drew comparisons to Nazi Germany's eugenic sterilization programs. These commentators, however, did not need to reach so far across the globe: Some of the most extreme allegations echo a long and disgraceful history right here in America.
If the whistleblower claims are true, they would be extensions of — not aberrations from — a wholly American practice of sterilizing populations deemed "undesirable."
The accounts of ongoing brutalities at ICE concentration camps may be a direct consequence of fascistic Trumpian excess, but, if the whistleblower claims are proven true, they would be extensions of — not aberrations from — a wholly American practice of sterilizing populations deemed "undesirable." President Donald Trump's administration did not bring white supremacist eugenic practices to U.S. soil: They have always been inherent to a country fixated on its "borders" and locking certain people away. It does an injustice to centuries of victims of sterilization to pretend otherwise. Like almost every report on detainee treatment at ICE concentration camps, the whistleblower complaint filed this week makes accusations of routine dehumanization. Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse at a Georgia-based detention center, filed a whistleblower complaint to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General that a doctor contracted to treat detained women had performed a seemingly high rate of hysterectomies. Wooten and one of the groups representing her, Project South, raised issues about the women giving what the complaint called a lack of "proper informed consent" before procedures. The Intercept was able to gather independent allegations from detainees and lawyers that were consistent with Project South's complaints.