Native Village 
Youth and Education News

November 1, 2013

Indigenous Woman Gives Birth On Hospital Lawn In Mexico After Doctors Denied Her Care

www.huffingtonpost.com/
Condensed by Native Village
 
 October 2, 2013
A frightened indigenous woman squats in pain after giving birth. Her newborn, still bound by the umbilical cord, is lying on the ground...
It happened on the lawn outside a medical clinic where the woman had been denied help...
This photo of this event horrified Mexicans and struck a nerve in a country where inequity is pervasive...

Mexico: The incident above took place at the Rural Health Center in the village of San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz in the southern state of Oxaca.

State and Federal investigations are now being conducted.
The F
ederal Health Department sent staff to investigate
The Oaxacan government has suspended the license of the health center's director.
The National Human Rights Commission also began an investigation after seeing news reports.

The mother, Irma Lopez, 29, is of Mazatec ethnicity. She and her husband were turned away from the health center by a nurse. The nurse said Lopez was only eight months pregnant and "still not ready" to deliver.

She told Lopez to go outside and walk, and that a doctor could check her in the morning.

But an hour and a half later, her water broke, and Lopez gave birth to a son, her third child, while grabbing the wall of a house next to the clinic.

"I didn't want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain," she said. She was alone for the birth because her husband was trying to convince the nurse to help.

A witness took the photo and gave it to a news reporter. It ran in several national newspapers and was widely circulated on the Internet.

This case focuses on the lack of maternal care in Mexico, where hundreds of women die during -- or right after -- pregnancy. It also points to the persistent discrimination against Mexico's indigenous people.

"The photo is giving visibility to a wider structural problem that occurs within indigenous communities: Women are not receiving proper care.  They are not being offered quality health services, not even a humane treatment," said Mayra Morales, Oaxaca's representative to the national Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

In 2011, nearly 20% of women in Oaxaca gave birth in a place other than a hospital or clinic. 
Health officials have urged women to deliver their babies in clinics, but women say the centers operate on limited hours and their staffs are small.

Some praise Mexico for improving maternal health care, yet the mortality rate is 50 deaths per 100,000 births
This is similar to Libya, Barbados and Kazakhstan.
The U.S. rate is 16 per 100,000.

Oaxaca is one of Mexico's poorest, most rural states.
Many women there have died of hemorrhaging or preeclampsia.
Mexican states with
the largest indigenous population have the highest rates of maternal deaths by a wide margin.

She and her husband had walked an hour to the clinic from the family's one-bedroom hut in the mountains. It would have taken them longer to get to the nearest highway to catch a ride to a hospital. Lopez said she knew from the births of her two other children that she didn't have time for that. 

Lopez was taken in by the clinic after giving birth, then and discharged the same day. Her prescriptions for medications and products cost her about $30, she said.

Health officials say she and her baby were in good health.

Lopez named her newborn for his entrance into the world.

"I am naming him Salvador," said Lopez, a name that means "Savior" in English. "He really saved himself."


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