Indigenous Woman Gives Birth on Hospital Lawn in Mexico After Being Denied Help

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An indigenous woman gave birth on a Mexican hospital lawn earlier this month after being denied help inside the clinic in a story making global headlines.

Her newborn still bound by the umbilical cord and lying on the ground, the shocking image has horrified millions because of where and how it took place.

The woman had been refused help inside the medical clinic right before this occurred, which struck a nerve in a country where inequity is still pervasive.

The mother, Irma Lopez, 29, said she was turned away by a nurse who said that she was only eight months pregnant and "still not ready" to deliver.

The nurse told her to go outside and walk, and said a doctor could check her in the morning, Lopez said. But an hour and a half later, her water broke.

Lopez gave birth to a son 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 added that she was alone for the birth, as her husband was still trying to persuade the nurse to call for help. But the story has since spread globally.

A witness took a photo and gave it to a news reporter. It ran in several national newspapers, including the full front page of a tabloid, and went viral online.

The case illustrated the severe shortcomings of maternal care in Mexico, where hundreds of women still die during childbirth or right after pregnancy.

It also pointed to persistent discrimination against Mexico's indigenous people.

"They are not being offered quality health services, not even a humane treatment," said Mayra Morales of the national Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

"The photo is giving visibility to a wider structural problem that occurs within indigenous communities: Women are not receiving proper care."

Lopez, who is of Mazatec ethnicity, said she and her husband walked an hour to the clinic from their one-bedroom hut in the mountains of northern Oaxaca.

It would have taken them longer to get to the nearest highway to catch a ride. From the births of her two previous children, she knew she didn't have time for that.

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

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

"I am naming him Salvador," said Lopez, a name that means "Savior" in English. The reason for that is a simple but profound one: "He really saved himself."

Nevertheless, the state of Oaxaca announced Wednesday that it has suspended the health center's director, Dr. Adrian Cruz, pending an investigation.

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