As a state association, it is rare that we wade into national issues. Yet, there are times when our professional ethics and moral compass require us to speak out.
Like so many others, we are horrified by recent claims of immigrant sterilizations taking place at a Georgia detention center under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Against a backdrop of poor medical care and lack of protection from COVID-19 within the Irwin Detention Facility, run for ICE by a private prison company, a nurse raised red flags about the unusually high rate of hysterectomies performed on immigrant women at the facility. One detainee told Project South, the organization that filed the complaint, that: “When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
Historically actions like these carry the scourge of systemic racism – we’ve seen this in the Nazi medical experiments on Jewish women in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, on black women in the U.S. prison system, on Black, Indigenous and People of Color as “practice” for medical students and as a condition to retain welfare benefits. This must end and we are called to raise our voices in calling for immediate action to thoroughly investigate these claims.
Finally, we applaud the courage shown by the ICE nurse in acting as a whistleblower. As nurses, we are bound by our professional ethics to do no less.