Medical experts have uncovered more evidence of sterilization practices on women held by ICE

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has come under new scrutiny after several reports of illegal and inhumane medical practices at a Georgia facility. (wolterke/Deposit Photos/)

Weeks after allegations of forced hysterectomies and other surgeries at an ICE detainment facility in Georgia made the news, more than a dozen women are coming forward to say that they were forcibly subjected to inhumane medical practices while in US custody.

A group of OB-GYNs and nurses from Creighton University, Baylor School of Medicine, and other institutions submitted a report to Congress detailing abuse and misconduct against 19 patients from the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, dating back to 2017. The five-page report, acquired by the Los Angeles Times, cited pathology and radiology scans, prescriptions, consent forms, and transcripts from phone interviews.

The report named Mahendra Amin, an OB-GYN in Douglas, Georgia, as the doctor accused of the unpermitted, unnecessary, and unethical procedures. Amin has run his own rural practice and worked with local hospitals for decades, but was not board-certified when he treated the women being held by ICE, according to GPB news, a local NPR affiliate.

Board certification is a voluntary but popular process in the American medical community that holds approved practitioners to particular standards and ethics set by a national organization. All authors of the report for Congress are board-certified.

After an Irwin County Detention Center nurse shared her concerns about the hysterectomies with human rights groups, legislators called for an investigation into the facility’s medical activities. A senior official from ICE also stated that it would launch an internal review. The agency confirmed in late September that Amin, who may have treated up to 60 women, many of whom were Latin American, Caribbean, and African, would no longer be seeing detainees.

As lawyers, medical experts, journalists, and congress people continue to gather evidence on the claims, it’s important to remember that the US has sanctioned race-based sterilization in the past century. Black and Indigenous individuals were subjected to forced hysterectomies through much of the 1900s, and 32 states passed sterilization laws targeting mentally ill and incarcerated populations. The last legal forced sterilization in Oregon, for example, was performed less than 40 years ago. The practice was also allowed in West Virginia until 2013.

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Rare Stolen Books Worth Millions Uncovered by Romanian Police

Authorities in Romania uncovered a stash of rare books and manuscripts worth millions of dollars in September during an investigation into a theft in the UK years earlier. According to reports, the stash included first editions of books by Newton and Galileo stolen from a postal service warehouse in Feltham, UK, in 2017 that was worth around £2.5 million ($3.2 million). The books were found buried in a secret compartment, under a house in Neamt County, Deutsche Welle reported. These photos and videos released by the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism in Romania show the stash. Credit: DIICOT via Storyful

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The making of Mackaroy Uncovered and the extraordinary lengths ABC Audio Studios went to creating the children’s podcast during coronavirus lockdown

The day I thought we might have to abandon Australia’s first kid’s fiction podcast series was when the call came through that one of the stars had to go into isolation after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19.

It was February, and we were so close to pressing record for the final time on Mackaroy Uncovered, a podcast that tells the story of two teen conspiracy theory investigators.

This was a few weeks before the panic buying kicked in and at a time when everyone in Australia (except for Dr Norman Swan) thought COVID-19 was a problem for other countries.

But the phone call telling me one of our leads was in isolation and wouldn’t be able to record “pick-ups” as planned made me realise COVID-19 was our problem too.

Actor Erin Choy started recording her part in a high-quality sound studio but ended up finishing the production from her home.(ABC Audio Studios: Sanita Khandharixay)

We’d wrapped the key recording for Mackaroy Uncovered at the ABC’s headquarters in Ultimo and had to record re-takes and additional lines in March with the teen actors who star in the podcast.

We needed these “picked up” lines to finish the edit. Without them, we couldn’t publish the podcast.

Like so many TV and audio productions across the world, the work ground to a halt overnight.

It left many months of work in limbo, with a huge question mark over whether the project would get finished in 2020.

We’d been working on Mackaroy Uncovered since 2019, when ABC Audio Studios and ABC Children brought together a group of writers to create the first eight-part fictionalised podcast series for kids made in Australia.

Much like producing a TV show, making a fiction podcast is a huge undertaking.

The writers were involved in creating the story, script writing, casting, recording and then editing over many months.

For all the work to come undone by COVID-19 was not an option.

The problems

We had a couple of major issues facing us.

Firstly, how were we going to record the pickups when we weren’t allowed any contact with the actors?

Secondly, how were we going to record audio that was of the high quality required for the podcast?

If it didn’t sound the same, a listener would be able to hear the difference. Epic fail.

So, with the ABC’s top audio engineers and COVID-19 response team, we nutted out an unorthodox and never-tried-before workaround.

The solutions

Screen shot of three windows showing a girl, a woman and a man wearing headphones.
Audio engineer John Jacobs sitting in his car and recording actor Erin Choy (top right) who is in her loungeroom. Production coordinator Veronica Light directing Erin as producer Kyla Slaven watches on.(ABC Audio Studios)

Our solution worked like this: the podcast’s engineer would drive to the actor’s house, where he would place the audio equipment at the front door, (after spraying it with disinfectant, of course.)

The engineer had taken the exact same headset microphone to the actor’s house that he’d used to record them in the drama studio to try to match the audio as much as possible.

The engineer would connect to the wireless headset microphone and sit in his car monitoring the quality of the sound and recording.

Sound equipment, microphone, headphones on front seat of car.
Audio engineer John Jacobs’ pop-up sound studio in his car which was parked outside actor Erin Choy’s home.(ABC Audio Studios)

In the meantime, the producers, who were in their own homes, would connect via video conference to the actor, and direct them remotely.

The plan also relied on the actors and their parents agreeing to do this, as well as their houses having the right sound.

The thing about having young actors as our leads is that they’re tech savvy and they’re willing to give anything a go.

They were onboard from the start.

But even when pressing record on that first ‘pick up’, we weren’t sure it would work.

So much could go wrong: bad connection, equipment that wouldn’t work, an echoey house.

Our audio engineer in Sydney, John Jacobs, admitted after that first record, in which he sat in a car for seven hours, that he was holding his breath and crossing his fingers the whole time!

But the workaround was a success.

We got the audio we needed to finish Mackaroy Uncovered, which has now been released for kids to enjoy.

And what about the audio quality?

Can you tell which lines were recorded in the world class drama studio and which were recorded in the bedrooms and loungerooms of the actors across Sydney and Melbourne?

You’ll have to listen to Mackaroy Uncovered to find out.

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