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World shocked by woman forced to deliver baby on clinic lawn

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's being called the image that shamed Mexico, and it's gone viral. The photograph shows a woman giving birth to a baby on a lawn in Mexico after being turned away from a local clinic.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Readers on social media around the world are seeing the shocking image and asking if the baby is okay. The good news is that the baby is just fine. The sad news is that the child was born on a lawn as opposed to in a hospital as should be the right of every mother.

According to Irma Lopez, 29, who is the woman pictured giving birth, she and her husband walked to a local clinic on Oct. 2 in Oaxaca, Mexico. The couple are ethnic Mazatec, one of that nation's many ethnic, native minorities.

Despite being in labor and her water having broke, staff at the clinic turned her away and left her to give birth on the lawn.

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The dramatic images highlight a serious problem, in the region. According to Sylvia Flores, the mayor of the rural village of San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz where the incident took place, another woman also gave birth on the law in July. In fact, one in five Mazatec women give birth outside the hospital because they cannot get in.

Nurses said they could not understand Lopez or her husband and that they were short staffed on that day.

"I didn't want to deliver like this" Lopez told reporters of her ordeal. "It was so ugly and with so much pain," she said. Lopez was alone during the birth because her husband was still trying to get her help.

Her screams are what alerted area residents, one of whom had a camera. Eloy Pacheco Lopez took the image of the distraught mother with her child on the grass. He gave the photo to a local reporter and shared it on Facebook. From there the image went viral.

The problem is that indigenous people in Mexico are subject to discrimination and do not receive the care to which they are entitled.

Duly embarrassed, the Mexican government has promised to investigate and sent staff to look into what happened. The clinic's Health Director, Adrian Cruz has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Human Rights observers are also investigating.

While the Mexican government says they urge all women to go to clinics to give birth, women in rural areas say the clinics are too small and understaffed to do the job properly.

 While Irma Lopez was lucky, and gave birth to a healthy child without subsequent complications, many other women do have problems. The infant mortality rate in Mexico is still about 50 per 100,000 births. By contrast, the rate in the U.S. is 16 for every 100,000.

Native people say they are used to being under-served by the health care system and they rely on more traditional methods to handle ordinary health issues. Infant and maternal mortality are higher in indigenous areas, by far.

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Irma Lopez has named her baby, a boy, Salvador, which means "savior." "He really saved himself" she told reporters.

Lopez and her baby are doing fine. 

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

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