Department Statement on September 18, 2020
The University of Washington Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology joins the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology in calling for immediate and thorough investigation of the allegations of involuntary hysterectomy in detained immigrants at an ICE detention facility in Georgia. We condemn reproductive coercion in all forms and acknowledge the history in the United States, including in the recent past, of the unethical practice of coerced or forced sterilization procedures performed on individuals of color and incarcerated individuals without their consent.
Our professional standards as outlined in ACOG’s position paper on ethical sterilization highlight the critical importance of professional medical interpreters in the informed consent process for individuals who do not speak fluent English or who prefer communication in another language. With respect to incarcerated individuals, these guidelines specify that “only rarely” should any sterilization procedure be performed during incarceration due to the extremely high risk of coercion; hysterectomy should thus only be performed when absolutely medically necessary and when the implications of loss of fertility from the procedure are clearly understood.
We condemn any care thatviolates these standards and affirm our commitment to providing obstetric and gynecologic care with highest ethical standards for all patients, regardless of immigration or incarceration status.