An indigenous woman of Mazatec ethnicity gave birth outside a Mexican medical clinic, where she had just been turned away and told she wasn’t ready to deliver.
Irma Lopez, 29, told the Associated Press that she and her husband were told to leave after they walked an hour to get to the clinic. The nurse told them she was still eight months pregnant and “still not ready.”
Lopez’s husband missed the birth, as she had gone outside and delivered her son (their third child) while grabbing the wall next to the clinic. He stayed inside to beg the nurse to treat his wife.
The center’s health director, Dr. Adrian Cruz, has been suspended, pending the federal investigation into the October 2 incident.
"I didn't want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain," Lopez told the AP.
A witness took a photo of the newborn still bound by the umbilical cord and lying and the ground, and the photo, which has been widely distributed in Mexico, has locals horrified over the country’s medical system. The picture of the disturbing incident has shed light on a serious issue.
"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 for the national Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
Sadly, nearly one in five women in Oaxaca gave birth in a place that is not a clinic or a hospital, this according to a 2011 census in Mexico. Health officials have since urged women to go to clinics to deliver their babies, but many women point to the fact that the rural centers have major drawbacks, including limited operating hours and small staffs.
The mortality rate of mothers in Mexico still stands at a shocking rate – approximately 50 deaths per 100,000 births, according to the World Health Organization, which the AP article notes is similar to Libya, Barbados and Kazakhstan. The U.S. rate is 16 per 100,000.
A perfect case in point is the fact that Lopez – who was taken into the clinic after giving birth – was discharged the same day. Fortunately, officials say the baby is in good health.
"I am naming him Salvador," said Lopez, which means "Savior" in English. "He really saved himself."