Forced Hysterectomies: The War on Women’s Reproductive Rights
The news hit, but it didn’t hit nearly hard enough. A complaint filed against a private Irwin County Immigration Detention Center in Georgia by whistle blower Dawn Wooten alleges not only that the conditions of the center are horrific, but that women are being given hysterectomies without understanding what is happening to them. That’s right, in a blatant attack on women’s reproductive rights, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is performing forced hysterectomies on detained Spanish-Speaking women
Wooten was a nurse working at the facility. She claims an unusually high number of hysterectomies are being performed on women detained at the facility who told her they didn’t understand why they had to get a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is no small procedure, it involves removing all or part of a woman’s uterus and leaves women unable to bear children. Some of the side effects of a hysterectomy include: an incision, swelling and bruising, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia and depression.
The operation requires a long recovery time, during which privileged, free white women typically rest in a comfortable bed and have their dietary and medical needs met by family and health professionals. However, according to Wooten, the detained women are receiving nowhere near the type of care required. The complaint outlines “jarring accounts from detained immigrants and Ms Wooten regarding the deliberate lack of medical care, unsafe work practices, and absence of adequate protection against Covid-19”.
Silence in the face of a horror story
Wooten is not the only nurse who has complained about the women’s reproductive rights violations that have occurred at the detention centers. Additional nurses have come forward with accounts of a doctor they call the uterus collector performing a shockingly large number of hysterectomies within the center, and even removing the wrong ovary on one of the detainees.
In an interview by Project South, one detainee compared the center to “an experimental concentration camp”, going on to say “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
The story sounds like something out of a horror novel, not something that could ever happen within the United States. It has many women asking, “Why isn’t this one of the biggest stories in the news?”. However, since the beginning of the Trump presidency the atrocities that have been swept under the rug and been ignored have only grown. From kids in cages to hiding facts about a pandemic spreading across the world, it only makes sense that a man who openly hates and disrespects women–and the system that supports him–would turn a blind eye to crimes being conducted against immigrant women’s reproductive rights in the United States.
Hysterectomies & abortion rights
As women living in America in 2020, often our primary focus, when it comes to reproductive rights, is focused on protecting our relatively newly acquired right to an abortion. In just three month period of time back in 2019, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi , and Ohio all passed laws that threaten women’s reproductive rights by severely restricting access to abortion.
In some cases, these anti-choice laws make it illegal to get an abortion after just six weeks gestation, a time frame in which most women don’t yet know that they are pregnant. Alabama’s law bans abortion in almost all cases—even those that include rape and incest. The law also carries up to a 99-year sentence for doctors who perform abortions.
The real fight for women’s reproductive rights
Every woman, regardless of race or ethnicity, immigration status, religion, or socioeconomic status must have the right to make fully informed decisions that pertain to her body, especially when it comes to pregnancy and fertility. To be truly free and equal, the control of a woman’s body and what happens to it (and inside of it) must be left up to her.
It’s more important now than ever that we fight for all women’s reproductive rights–those seeking to end unwanted pregnancies, and those in detention centers having their ability to bear children cut from their bodies without consent.
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
If you find yourself in the midst of a debate over women’s reproductive rights, or you just need a little fuel for your fire (don’t let it be snuffed), I’ve pulled together some powerful quotes about women’s reproductive rights by some of my favorite Sheroes.
Keep fighting the good fight ladies. VOTE in November! As we see the emergence of forced hysterectomies in the U.S combined with increasing anti-choice laws across the states, it is more important now than it has ever been before that we stand together and fight for what is rightfully ours (women in the US and around the world): complete control over our reproductive rights.
11 quotes about women’s reproductive rights
- “No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.” ― Margaret Sanger
- “The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- “Defending women’s health means defending access to abortion — not just in theory, but in reality. We know that restricting access doesn’t make women less likely to end a pregnancy. It just makes abortion less safe. And that then threatens women’s lives.” –Hillary Clinton
- “I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
- “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” — Kofi Annan
- “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” — Hillary Clinton
- “Reproductive freedom is not just the ability not to have a child through birth control. It’s the ability to have one if and when you want.” ― Pamela Madsen
- “Listen to the pregnant woman. Value her. She values the life growing inside her. Listen to the pregnant woman, and you cannot help but defend her right to abortion.” — Ayelet Waldman
- “Reproductive freedom is critical to a whole range of issues. If we can’t take charge of this most personal aspect of our lives, we can’t take care of anything. It should not be seen as a privilege or as a benefit, but a fundamental human right.” ― Faye Wattleton
- “It is unthinkable to allow complete strangers, whether individually or collectively as state legislators or others in government, to make such personal decisions for someone else.” ― Sarah Weddington
- “I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.” ― Roxane Gay
- No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg. —Frederica Mathewes-Green