Giving birth outside a health clinic

Posted by Tim Johnson on October 8, 2013 

The case of 28-year-old Irma Lopez and how she gave birth to her third child on a patch of grass at a medical clinic that denied her attention might not have gathered much attention in Mexico.

Except for the photo.

Someone else at the clinic took out a cell phone and snapped a photo as Lopez, a Mazateca indigenous women, squatting in pain, her newborn son fallen onto the grass, the umbilical cord still connected.

The photo, which you can see if you scroll down the page at this website, quickly made the rounds on social media, drawing some outrage at health workers in the town of Jalapa de Diaz in southwest Oaxaca state.

The National Human Rights Commission weighed in after the Oct. 2 birth, declaring that access to health care “is a basic right of persons belonging to an indigenous group and particularly pregnant women.”

Grilled by national media, Oaxacan health authorities quickly asserted that Lopez couldn’t speak Spanish, only an indigenous language, so she couldn’t make herself understood.

That proved to be a lie. See this video to hear her speak fluent Spanish.

She says in the video that a nurse at the clinic told her to just wait.

“The nurse told me that they weren’t going to see me until the doctor came, and that he would come at 8 sharp. I gave birth at 7:30,” she said.

Once she had given birth, the medical personnel put her on a hospital bed and gave her some simple treatment. When it was time for her to take her newborn and head home, the clinic told her she had to pay.

Said her partner, Margarito Andres Velasquez: “They wanted me to pay 1,500 pesos for the bed.”

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