An indigenous woman squats in pain after giving birth, her newborn still bound by the umbilical cord and lying on the ground. It’s a photograph that horrified Mexicans because of where it took place: the lawn outside a medical clinic where the woman had been denied help, and it struck a nerve in a country where inequity is still pervasive.
The government of the southern state of Oaxaca announced Wednesday that it has suspended the health center’s director, Dr. Adrian Cruz, while officials conduct state and federal investigations into the Oct. 2 incident.
The mother, Irma Lopez, 29, told The Associated Press that she and her husband were turned away from the health center by a nurse who said she was only eight months pregnant and “still not ready” to deliver.
Read the rest here: Woman Denied Help Gives Birth on Clinic’s Lawn
This woman gave birth twice before. She knew it was time.
From the article above:
“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.
Lopez, who is of Mazatec ethnicity, said she and her husband walked an hour to the clinic from the family’s 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 to a hospital. She said that from the births of her two previous children, she knew she didn’t have time for that.
“I am naming him Salvador,” said Lopez, a name that means “Savior” in English. “He really saved himself.”
When I was a kid in Fullerton, California, the woman across the street went to the hospital to give birth to her eighth child. Someone, a doctor or nurse, told her she was not ready, and shoved a towel between her legs. The woman survived, but her baby did not. The woman was Hispanic. Two of my sisters were born in that hospital.
I worry that we are moving towards this kind of health care, instead of away from it. Demonizing brown people and reserving health care for the rich will take us back to deadlier times.
Here is some more background on maternal care in Mexico.