Activists: Mexican Women Forced to Give Birth in Street

They say indigenous women are turned away from hospitals
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 28, 2014 2:00 PM CDT
Activists: Mexican Women Forced to Give Birth in Street
Irma Lopez and her son, Sabino Salvador, walk in front of her house in San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz, Mexico. Irma's plight garnered national attention last year she had to give birth outside a clinic.   (AP Photo/Luis Alberto Cruz)

Women's rights advocates sought international help yesterday in ending what they call a pattern of poor indigenous Mexican women being turned away from hospitals while in labor, forcing them to give birth on lawns, patios, or parking lots. Activists working in villages in southern Mexico say they have documented at least 20 recent cases of women giving birth outside hospitals whose staff claimed there was no room. Photos and video of some incidents posted on social media sites have prompted outrage in Mexico and around the world.

Women's advocates appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying they believe there is a systemic problem of prejudice and callousness toward indigenous women in the Mexican public health system. The problem garnered national attention last year when a photo showed a 29-year-old woman of Mazatec ethnicity squatting in pain immediately after giving birth in October on the lawn outside the Rural Health Center of the village of San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz. More cases were soon reported. Just this week, local media reported the case of a woman having contractions who had been sent away by a hospital and was re-admitted only after photographers began arriving. The human rights commission will study the cases heard yesterday and can send resolutions that are non-binding based on what it finds. (Read more Mexico stories.)

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