Maternal mortality occurs during pregnancy, childbirth or the puerperium due to any cause related to or aggravated by its handling, excluding accidental causes. Its structural and preventable nature makes it a violation of women and pregnant people’s human rights, as well as a matter of reproductive justice that is the government’s responsibility.
In Mexico, there is a regulatory and public policy framework that, if properly implemented, would allow for progress in reducing maternal deaths. However, structural problems make it difficult for women and other pregnant people to receive adequate care, so that their health and lives are not in danger.
While first level health care for low-risk births has remained underutilized, second and third levels are saturated. This results in a high number of unjustified cesarean sections, and insufficient infrastructure, equipment, supplies, and trained personnel. These structural flaws in the health sector, including the lack of medical personnel and their consequent work overload, are the cause of preventable deaths that disproportionately affect certain population groups, such as indigenous women, girls and adolescents, and people living in poverty and marginalization. In this sense, maternal mortality is also a matter of justice.
For the relatives of maternal mortality victims, important precedents have been achieved over the last ten years in terms of accessing comprehensive reparations, making it possible to visualize the scope that mechanisms of access to justice can reach. However, obstacles and difficulties in the processes persist. Processes can last several years, and more often than not, victims’ needs and participation in establishing comprehensive reparation measures as well as in the implementation of non-repetition guarantees, represent a challenge. With this, the modification of conditions that allow maternal mortality to persist is a continued missed opportunity.
Two campaigns, “Chiapasiónate? Justice for Susana” and “María Ligia. A preventable death” highlight the seriousness of human rights violations, as well as obstacles that relatives of maternal mortality victims face, in accessing justice.