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Neglected indigenous woman gives birth outside hospital

October 7, 2013


An indigenous Mazatec woman gave birth on the grass outside a hospital in Oaxaca last week, having been refused medical attention, purportedly because she did not speak adequate Spanish.

Experiencing labor pains, Irma Lopez Aurelio went with her husband to a public health center in Jalapa de Diaz, Oaxaca, last Tuesday. The hospital was in a state of partial strike, but Lopez tried to tell the staff that were present that she had been experiencing contractions for hours and was fully dilated.

The doctors reportedly asked her some questions but refused to help her, arguing that they did not understand her imperfect Spanish and were not sure what was happening, despite her obvious condition. Lopez waited for two hours but received no help from the nurses or administrative staff and in the early hours of Wednesday morning she gave birth without medical assistance on the hospital lawn.

Eyewitnesses photographed the incident and an image of Lopez still connected by the umbilical cord to her 5.3-pound son soon went viral on social networks Facebook and Twitter.

In response to accusations of institutional racism and negligence, the Oaxaca state government issued a statement affirming that it had ordered “an impartial and thorough investigation of the medical staff at the Jalapa de Diaz Health Center, to determine responsibility for the alleged medical malpractice in the process of attending to Irma Aurelio Lopez, who gave birth to a child the morning of Wednesday October 3.”

The National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) has filed a complaint and is requesting information from the authorities as it seeks evidence proving the violation of Lopez’s human rights. “The right to health protection is a fundamental right for people belonging to an indigenous group, particularly for women during pregnancy,” the CNDH affirmed.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2013 04:36

    WOW…what century do we live in?

  2. October 11, 2013 10:59

    One wonders if the incident isn’t so much a reflection about Mexico’s troubled health care system but also it’s troubled attitude and continuing discrimination against poorer indigineous locals….

    One could only imagine the real horror had this woman actually come from the right part of town….

    • October 11, 2013 14:43

      Absolutely. Racism is is rarely discussed in Mexico but the indigenous population still faces routine discrimination.


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