Volume XXIII
Issue 1
Fall '21

"He's the Uterus Collector" The Reproductive Rights of Women in ICE Detention: An Opportunity to Protect the Constitutional Rights of Federal Detainees in Privately Run Facilities

Written By: Helen Jennings

Abstract

In September 2020, a shocking account of reproductive violence emerged from an ICE detention center in rural Georgia. Whistleblower Dawn Wooten told the stories of dozens of women who had suffered unnecessary and non-consensual gynecological surgery at the hands of the detention center’s physician, Dr. Amin, whom she called “the uterus collector.” A class-action Bivens claim for the victims of Dr. Amin is currently in progress in the District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. This article closely considers one aspect of this claim, namely the vindication of the plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment Due Process rights. As detainees within a privately run federal detention facility, the plaintiffs are effectively precluded from bringing a successful Bivens action against the private company running the immigration detention center, or its employees. This article argues that the plaintiffs should be permitted to bring their claim and should not face an unduly high burden of proof in respect of the defendants’ failure to provide adequate medical treatment. Should it reach the U.S. Supreme Court, this case could present the Court with two monumental opportunities: to extend constitutional protection to individuals in federal detention run by for-profit private companies, and also to challenge the legacy of eugenics toleration fostered by U.S. courts since the 1970s.

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