Sen. Jon Ossoff Takes ICE to Task Over ‘Appalling’ Gynecological Treatments in Detention

Ossoff (D-Ga.) unveiled the bipartisan Senate subcommittee findings about the horrific experiences of women in Georgia detention facilities.

Sen. Jon Ossoff Takes ICE to Task Over ‘Appalling’ Gynecological Treatments in Detention
Photo:Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga) grilled the doctor in charge of medical care for immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) custody on Tuesday, after the subcommittee Ossoff chairs revealed “excessive, invasive, and often unnecessary gynecological surgeries” and other horrific abuses suffered by women in federal custody in Georgia.

“It’s hard for me to think of anything worse, really, [ICE Health Service Corps Asst. Director Dr. Stewart] Smith, than the Federal government subjecting incarcerated women to needless gynecological surgery,” Ossoff said. “It’s one of the most appalling things this Subcommittee has seen in the last two years.”

The subcommittee’s work was sparked by reports in September 2020 that one doctor, Dr. Mahendra Amin, was sterilizing detained women without their consent. Further reporting in October 2020 would find as many as 19 women were subject to aggressive treatments by Dr. Amin. (Dr. Amin was subpoenaed by the subcommittee and invoked his Fifth Amendment right.)

In a 103-page report released on Monday, U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Dr. Amin was responsible for 6.5 percent of “off-site OB/GYN visits” for all those in ICE detention nationwide, “performed 82% of all dilation and curettage surgeries, 93% of all contraceptive injections, and 94% of all laparoscopic surgeries to remove lesions performed on the entire ICE detainee population nationwide,” Ossoff said.

Ossoff asked if Dr. Smith—who is charge of all medical care for detained immigrants in federal custody—if he had anything to say to the “dozens if not hundreds of women” harmed.

“It’s disheartening,” Stewart said.

Disheartening is the most benign descriptor for what women described happened to them while under ICE care. Take the story of Karina Cisneros Preciado, 23, who told the subcommittee that Dr. Amin did not greet her or talk about the procedures that would be performed at her appointment in early September 2020. Instead, she said, he told her to “open your legs” and stuck a long white tube into her vagina. She though she was going to get a Pap smear; instead, she received a vaginal ultrasound.

Cisneros Preciado told the committee that the doctor told her that she had an ovarian cyst and would be getting a Depo-Provera injection as treatment, but did not explain what that meant. Cisneros Preciado said she shook while trying to get dressed. While she was handcuffed (because she was incarcerated by ICE), she was injected with the birth control shot.

She never saw Dr. Amin for a follow-up because allegations against the provider would become national news. When Cisneros Preciado received a follow-up transvaginal ultrasound for her ovarian cyst in October 2020, an imaging report found nothing.

It’s hard to imagine Ossoff’s Republican Senate opponent in Georgia, David Perdue, spending his time in office bringing light to a situation like this. In short: Elections matter.

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