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Mexico probes death of pregnant woman at clinic

April 16, 2014

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said Wednesday it will investigate the latest apparent case of denial of medical care for poor women, after a pregnant Mixtec Indian woman died in a clinic along with the fetus.

The woman waited five hours for treatment at a government-run rural health clinic before dying of a heart attack and respiratory failure, the commission said in a statement.

It said she sought treatment at the minimally equipped rural clinic in the town of Copala in the southern state of Guerrero in late March. She was described as a 20-year-old woman who was eight months pregnant, but her name was not released.

The Guerrero state government had no immediate comment on the commission’s statement.

Activists say at least 20 poor Mexican women have given birth in streets, patios or hospital waiting rooms after they were denied help in recent months.

The problem garnered national attention in October when a photo showed a 29-year-old woman of Mazatec ethnicity squatting in pain immediately after giving birth on the lawn outside another rural clinic in southern Mexico. The woman and her son survived with no health problems, but the picture upset many Mexicans when it was widely shared on Twitter and Facebook and printed on the front pages of some national dailies.

Mexican health officials have said the cases are isolated and unavoidable due to overcrowding and limited resources at some rural health centers. But women’s advocates say they believe there is a systemic problem of prejudice and callousness toward indigenous women in the Mexican public health system.

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