On the reports of forced sterilization in ICE detention centers

Yesterday’s reporting on the complaint by whistleblower nurse, Dawn Wooten, about the treatment of migrant detainees describes a travesty and a crime. Upstream is outraged by the reports of hysterectomies performed without patient consent in Georgia’s ICE detention centers.

Bodily autonomy is not a privilege — it is a basic human right.

Black, Indigenous, disabled and marginalized people have for generations experienced violence that ranged from policies, programs and practices aimed at limiting their reproductive freedoms to state-run eugenics programs resulting in forced sterilizations. Our nation’s ugly history of reproductive abuse is a dark stain that we must work to confront every day.

You can read more about the dark history of sterilization abuse in the U.S. in this paper from The Guttmacher Institute.

This most recent news serves to illustrate and remind all of us that reproductive coercion and forced sterilization is not just part of our history, but a current reality.

At Upstream, we are committed to equity and justice and use a reproductive justice framework to inform our approach to our program.

We will continue to:

  • Engage patients, stakeholders and reproductive justice organizations for feedback on our program and materials
  • Address reproductive coercion and oppression in every agency training and in our implementation coaching work with staff and providers
  • Support policy priorities that address racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes, reproductive coercion, and social determinants of health
  • Build partnerships that align with our mission and speak to equity and reproductive justice concerns

Our training model addresses contraceptive coercion with the sensitivity and urgency it requires, and we are careful to frame these atrocities as present-day issues. We plan to include this horrific ICE detention center example in our training content to reinforce where we are in this struggle, and the work we must continue to pursue to ensure reproductive freedom is a universal value and right.

At Upstream, we advocate for all people to have control of their reproductive decisions, and we will continue to fight for patient-centered care, reproductive freedom and dignity for all.

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