NIRH Condemns State-Sanctioned Reproductive Coercion, Joins Call to Abolish ICE

September 24, 2020
Contact: Kelly Novak, [email protected], 646-520-3504

Following reports of forced hysterectomies at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Irwin, Georgia, the National Institute for Reproductive Health released the following statement: 

“NIRH is horrified that people are being subjected to and terrorized with forced hysterectomies, and condemns in the strongest possible terms this and all state-sanctioned violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of color. These actions are a continuation of the United States’ history of forced sterilization, reproductive coercion, and medical experimentation on Black and brown bodies, and demonstrate how this pattern of white supremacy continues in today’s institutions of medicine, policing, and detainment. 

We are grateful that whistleblower Dawn Wooten brought this injustice to light. We are deeply moved by the detainees who have bravely shared their stories about the harm they have endured. We are also grateful for the leadership of our colleagues in the Reproductive Justice movement – led by Black and Indigenous people, and people of color – who have long urged a reckoning with the connection between white supremacy and reproductive coercion. 

The vision of Reproductive Justice – as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities – cannot comport with a violent, racist state agency that targets and harms migrants and refugees, tears apart families, and controls who can have children and who cannot. We call on the United States government to ensure that no person experiences the type of violent reproductive coercion and oppression that we have seen in this facility. We join the numerous activists from across justice spaces – from immigrant justice to reproductive justice to housing justice – in their call to abolish ICE, and further urge that any federal agency that is charged with similar responsibilities ensure that all people have the ability to make their own reproductive decisions without coercion, or violence. 

While so many of us are fatigued from the near-constant horrors in the news while battling a global pandemic, we cannot stop fighting for accountability and justice for all who have been harmed.

Today, you can take a few small steps toward making this vision a reality. We encourage our followers to sign SisterSong’s petition that calls for the dismantling of ICE and the systems that perpetuate forced sterilization, reproductive coercion, and medical experimentation on Black and brown bodies, and follow Project South to stay up to date on local work happening to combat these atrocities.” 


The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) is an advocacy group that works directly with state and local reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations and allied groups to protect and advance access to reproductive healthcare. Our strategy is to go on the offensive to pass laws that safeguard reproductive freedom. NIRH partners with communities to build coalitions, launch campaigns, and successfully advocate for policy change, so the fabric of reproductive freedom is harder to tear apart.