We at RHEDI are livid about reports of coerced and unconsented hysterectomies, in addition to the continued lack of COVID-19 protections, at ICE facilities. Unfortunately, this inhumane treatment and devaluing of non-white bodies is not new. We recognize that medical professionals and the larger institution of medicine are complicit in this vile, oppressive treatment of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC)–-including those who are immigrants. American medicine has well-established roots in medical neglect, abuse, and experimentation on BIPOC including immigrants, and it continues to be complicit in forced sterilizations, coercive contraceptive practices, withholding of anesthesia and pain control, and other human rights violations against BIPOC.
The operation of white supremacy in medicine and other spheres of American life has and continues to have devastating consequences for communities of color. Rather than resisting the racist structures and practices that create and reinforce these injustices, the medical profession has too often accepted and rationalized these outcomes. It must stop.
We cannot have reproductive justice while our society and medical institutions continue to devalue the bodies, children, and lives of communities of color. We at RHEDI will lend our voices and our efforts to support and stand behind the actual work being done by organizations on the front lines of the fight for the reproductive justice for BIPOC (see below). We also strongly urge all medical societies and institutions to employ their voices and actions to finally stop the injustice.
The RHEDI Team
Leaders in the Fight:
SisterSong (Sign their petition here.)
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice
Black Mamas Matter Alliance
National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Project South (Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide)
National Birth Equity Collaborative
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
Movement for Family Power
National Partnership for Women and Families
Background on ICE medical neglect, abuse, and the whistleblower complaint:
Project South (Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide), “Re: Lack of Medical Care, Unsafe Work Practices, and Absence of Adequate Protection Against COVID-19 for Detained Immigrants and Employees Alike at the Irwin County Detention Center” September 14, 2020.
Moira Donegan, “Ice hysterectomy allegations in line with US’s long and racist history of eugenics,” The Guardian, September 17, 2020.
Caitlin Dickerson, “Inquiry Ordered Into Claims Immigrants Had Unwanted Gynecology Procedures,” New York Times, September 16, 2020.
Carter Sherman, “Staggering Number of Hysterectomies Happening at ICE Facility, Whistleblower Says” Vice News, September 14, 2020.