A woman in Mexico gave birth on a lawn outside a medical center after she was refused treatment by nurses there. Due to the outrage the incident has caused among Mexicans the authorities in the southern state of Oaxaca have suspended the center’s director, Dr Adrian Cruz.
It is hard to know where to start when reporting the shocking details of this case. The young mother, Irma Lopez, aged 29, told reporters that she and her husband were refused entry into the medical center by a nurse who said that Lopaz was only eight months pregnant, and not ready to give birth yet.
Unbelievably, the nurse told Lopez to go and walk outside. She added that she could be checked the following morning by a doctor if the pains persisted. Less than two hours passed when the pregnant woman’s water broke, and she was forced to give birth on the lawn outside the center.
The incident is worrying from a couple of angles. First of all it illustrates the weaknesses in the Mexican health system, as many woman die annually during or after giving birth. It also highlights the issue of racism, as the woman was most likely discriminated against because of the fact she was ethnically indigenous.
Lopez said: “I didn’t want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain.” She also commented on the fact that she gave birth alone as her husband tried to persuade medical professionals at the center to help his wife.
After the story broke and spread rapidly around the internet in Mexico, Mayra Morales, a representative for the national Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said:
“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.”
It seems that the authorities in Mexico are taking this disgraceful incident seriously. The federal Health Department as well as the National Human Rights Commission are carrying out full inquiries into the birth on lawn incident.
The mortality rate in Mexico is similar to those in Libya and Barbados, about 50 deaths per 100,000 births. The U.S. Figure is around 16 per 100,000. Back in 2011 one in five woman in Mexico reportedly gave birth in places other than a hospital.
In this case, mother and baby were doing well following the birth and Lopez was sent home the same day with some prescriptions for medication. Speaking about her new baby Lopez said: “I am naming him Salvador,” which means savior in English, “He really saved himself,” she said.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of the inquiries will be into the latest birth on lawn incident as Mexico struggles to offer appropriate healthcare for its citizens.