Written by Nolan Alisago (News Writer)
After a whistleblower accused ICE detention facilities of medical neglect, news outlets sensationalized the claim of forced hysterectomies on unwitting migrant women, relating it to the United States history of ethnic cleansing. The equating to genocide created a flurry of outrage that led to the speaker of the House demanding investigations of the allegations of forced sterilization in the Irwin County Detention Facility. This led to a serially abusive doctor and resulted in the unmasking of Dr. Mahendra Amin, dubbed the “Uterus Collector.”
Dr. Mahendra Amin is the obstetrician and gynecologist who worked with Irwin County Detention Facility to provide healthcare for migrant women. Testimony from ex-patients claims he would examine them so rough they would leave bruised and bleeding. Some even accused him of putting them under for minor procedures and giving them hysterectomies. Early reports attempted to tie the practice of sterilization to nefarious attempts at ethnic cleansing. However, after the release of the doctor’s identity, suspicions of his motivation shifted to financial considerations. Lawmakers called for an FBI investigation into Amin after revelations over his precarious financial situation were brought to light. The members of congress accused Amin of performing more expensive procedures to make money to pay off his various debts. Some of his debt was from loans for his many business ventures, some from penalties from previous medical misconduct and malpractice. His settlements included two malpractice settlements for the neglect of a pregnant woman in crisis (one case resulting in the death of the mother, the other in the death of the child), and a civil settlement that resulted in a $525,000 fine. The civil settlement came from his company, MGA Health management, which he had instructed to use illegal practices to boost revenue. Amin instructed nurses to perform costly tests regardless of the patient’s conditions and without consulting physicians and to give obstetrical ultrasounds to every pregnant woman who entered the emergency room. Medicaid would pay in the hundreds to thousands of dollars for each of these unwarranted tests and procedures. This was all before Amin Began working with ICE.
Amin became the specialist whom the detention facility would refer to in 2017. Although Amin had performed only two hysterectomies since 2017, ICE refused to release how many other sterilization procedures he had performed. If patients had issues that were too complicated for on-site medical care, they would be sent to Amin. The number of outside facility medical treatments jumped nearly 40% when he started working with the program. This jump was so dramatic that only five other ice facilities across the nation had more out of facility visits. Another larger Georgia facility had nearly 1/7th the out of facility visits. Ice received complaints about Amin as early as 2018, to which they did not react. Lawyers claim that some women who reported abuse or resisted were treated for mental illness or placed in solitary confinement. The private prison company who runs the facility claims to have a zero-tolerance policy and take allegations very seriously, despite having had Southern Poverty Law Center lawyers submit women’s complaints of abuse to facility managers for years now. Numerous horror stories of abuse by Amin have existed for years, yet only now, after house democrats got the FBI to begin an investigation and have the State medical board take disciplinary action, has his medical practice frozen, and he is barred from performing on women in detention facilities.
Yet the medical failings of ICE and U.S prisons are widespread and not limited to a single doctor. All detention facilities pose an enormous health risk, with many already being the epicenter for COVID-19 outbreaks across the U.S. In California, for every 10,000 prisoners, 1,528 have had or have COVID-19. Despite prisons being so dangerous for COVID exposure, of the thousands of compassionate release requests (requests for immediate release because of “particularly extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing”) by inmates with pre-existing conditions in federal prisons, 98% were rejected. Abusive practices have harmed countless detainees across the United States, but as emphasized in the 28-page whistle blower complaint of Irwin county, the likely killer of detainees would be neglect leading to COVID death.