Woman, Baby Die After Doctors Refuse to Treat Them in India

An Indian woman and her newborn died Wednesday from a lack of medical treatment because she is considered an "untouchable" in her country, officials said.

Maya Devi, 28, gave birth outside of the maternity wing of Kanpur Medical College in northern Uttar Pradesh state. The baby boy died within minutes of his birth, French news agency AFP reported.

Devi was placed in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital because she had a heart attack and died Thursday morning, the report said.

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Several doctors, including the hospital's chief medical superintendent, had refused to touch her or provide medical care as she delivered her baby, the Press Trust of India reported.

Devi was a Dalit, or "untouchable," a group at the bottom of the caste social ladder who have long been ostracized and forced into menial professions despite laws banning discrimination.

Many high-class Hindus fear coming into contact with them, AFP reported.

Dr. Kiran Pandey, head of gynecology at the hospital, said she was an hour's drive away in the state capital Lucknow at the time and rushed back.

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