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Rights advocates call for end to hospitals forcing poor women to give birth in the street

Women's rights advocates are seeking international help to fix what they call a pattern of poor indigenous Mexican women being turned away from hospitals even 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 18 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.

Rights groups presented some of the cases to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Thursday.

Mexican health officials have said the cases are isolated and unavoidable due to overcrowding and limited resources at some rural health centers.