Bystander Eloy Pacheco López rushed out of the clinic and snapped this photo upon realizing what was happening.
Image Facebook/ Eloy Pacheco López

Controversy has erupted in Mexico over a photo depicting Irma López Aurelio, a 28-year-old indigenous woman from Jalapa de Díaz, Oaxaca, as she gives birth to a child on the lawn outside of the health clinic where she and her husband had sought medical attention. Clinic staff pointed to a linguistic barrier, saying López Aurelio did not understand directions given to her in Spanish, but Mexican authorities said last week that they were investigating possible negligence in the case. According to EFE, the Oaxaca Human Rights Commission has also opened an investigation and submitted a request for information from health authorities.

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According to Proceso, López Aurelio arrived at the Health Center in the Oaxacan town early in the morning, accompanied by her husband. She informed staff at the clinic, which was short-staffed at the time due to a partial work stoppage, that she was about to give birth - she had been awakened that morning by increasingly strong contractions, was fully dilated and her water had broken. The clinic staff told her and her husband, who are Mazatecos, something in Spanish which neither of them understood apart from the word "no". She says she waited for some two hours to be attended to until, at about 7:30 in the morning, she pushed her way out of the clinic and onto a patch of grass, where she gave birth.

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Eloy Pacheco López, who took the photo, wrote on Facebook that "after waiting and demanding attention for two hours, she gave birth in the yard of the hospital after being ignored by personnel under the direction of the supposed doctor Adrian René Cruz Cabrera". The image was picked up by a local media outlet and disseminated quickly on Twitter, where it garnered a hail of denouncements of personnel and health authorities. According to Clarin, the mayor of the town where the health center is located, Silvia Flores, said it was the second time in a year that a woman has had to give birth to a child on the center's grass - in July, another indigenous woman from a nearby village did the same.

In response to clamor over the photo, the state government released a statement in which it says it has ordered "an impartial and in-depth investigation into the medical personnel at the Jalapa de Díaz Health Center in order to delineate responsibilities with respect to the possible medical negligence in attention to Mrs. Irma López Aurelio, who gave birth to a child this Wednesday".

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