Warning: This post contains a graphic photo of a woman giving birth which some may find disturbing.
Being the mother of two children, Irma Lopez knew she was on the verge of giving birth.
She pleaded with the nurse at her local health clinic to admit her, but was brusquely turned away and told to come back the following day for a checkup.
For Lopez, an indigenous Mazatec woman who lives a single-bedroom hut in the mountains overlooking northern Oaxaca, Mexico, walking to the Rural Health Center in San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz takes over an hour, and the hospital is even farther away.
She was literally left with no choice but to squat over the lawn outside the clinic, and give birth right there and then.
An eyewitness photo of Lopez, 29, with her newborn on the grass — his umbilical cord still dangling from her body — spread like wildfire across Mexico, eventually burning the center's director, Dr. Adrian Cruz, who was forced to resign.
Officials from the federal Health Department also announced plans to investigate the circumstances surrounding Lopez's treatment.
"I didn’t want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain," Lopez told the Associated Press.
She noted that, while she was giving birth, her husband was still trying to convince the clinic's nurse to get help.
But something good may yet come of this.
The national Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights is crediting Lopez's ordeal with "giving visibility to a wider structural problem that occurs within indigenous communities," which is that "women are not receiving proper care."
Though bigotry is believed to have played a role in the October 2nd incident, it's worth noting that a common complaint among women in rural Mexico is that health centers have limited operating hours and staff members, forcing many expecting mothers to stay home.
The mortality rate in Mexico currently stands at 50 deaths per 100,000 births according to WHO — compared with 16 per 100,000 in the US.
The Rural Health Center ultimately admitted Lopez after the worst was over, and she and her baby are reportedly in good health.
"I am naming him Salvador [Savior]," Lopez is quoted as saying. "He really saved himself."
[screengrab, photo via La Razon, bottom photo via AP]