by Mary Margaret Olohan
Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is introducing a bill that would criminalize any sterilization or abortion procedure performed without informed consent from the patient.
The Iowa Republican’s legislation builds off a September 2020 whistleblower complaint that alleged mass hysterectomies were performed on immigrant women by Dr. Mahendra Amin without their consent while they were being held at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. Amin, a rural gynecologist, has denied any wrongdoing.
The Informed Consent Act would criminalize such behavior, Ernst told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
We need a thorough investigation by the DHS Inspector General immediately into the allegations of forced sterilization of immigrant women at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.
This cannot wait. https://t.co/i78bi9vW7g
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) September 22, 2020
“Whether it is a hysterectomy or an abortion, a doctor — or any individual for that matter — must not be able to perform these procedures without the consent of the woman,” Ernst said in a statement to the DCNF. “Under this bill, if they do so, they would be committing a crime. This is simple and straightforward and something everyone — pro-life or pro-choice — can get behind.”
The legislation would criminalize any abortion or sterilization that took place without informed consent and impose penalties of a fine or up to ten years in prison for individuals who perform an abortion or sterilization without informed consent.
It would also establish a felony for failing to report knowledge of such a procedure taking place without informed consent, “capturing the individuals who are complicit in the procedure even if they did not take part in performing it,” Ernst’s office said of the proposal.
The Informed Consent Act would, however, provide an exception in the case of emergency, such as saving the life of the individual or preventing “substantial and irreversible impairment,” according to Ernst’s office.
Exclusive: More women have come forward to allege medical abuse and forced sterilization by Dr. Mahendra Amin, the primary gynecologist for an immigrant detention center in Georgia. https://t.co/AzLDuonSXy
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) October 23, 2020
Republican New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, said in a statement to the DCNF that it is “shocking” that current law fails to provide penalties for forced sterilizations or forced abortions.
“The Informed Consent Act would criminalize these offenses and establish the same federal penalties in place for assault resulting in serious bodily injury,” Smith said. “We must ensure that those who are complicit in such horrific acts are held accountable and provide justice for victims of this unconscionable human rights abuse.”
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Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.