Allyson Felix demands better maternity care for Black women following Tori Bowie's death

Aaliyah Brown, Allyson Felix, Morolake Akinosun and Torie Bowie
From left: Aaliyah Brown, Allyson Felix, Morolake Akinosun and Torie Bowie celebrate after winning the 4x100m relay final at the 2017 World Championships. Fle photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

New York: Maternity care for Black women needs to be radically improved so that other pregnant women do not end up dying like 2016 Olympic relay champion Tori Bowie, track and field's most decorated woman Allyson Felix said on Thursday.

Former 100 metres world champion Bowie, who won gold in the 4x100 metres relay at the Rio Games along with Felix, died aged 32 while she was approximately eight months pregnant and experiencing labour, according to an autopsy report obtained by US media.

Felix herself experienced life-threatening complications during her pregnancy in 2018, while a third member of their 2016 Olympic relay team, Tianna Madison, wrote on social media this week that she nearly died during childbirth.

"Three gold medalists from that 4x100 relay team in Rio set out to become mothers. All three of us — all Black women — had serious complications," Felix, who collected seven Olympic gold medals during her career, wrote in Time magazine.

"We’re dealing with a Black Maternal Health crisis. Here you have three Olympic champions, and we're still at risk."

Felix pointed to CDC data showing the maternal mortality rate for Black women in the United States was 2.6 times the rate for white women and said she had reservations about trying to have another child.

"This is America, in 2023, and Black women are dying while giving birth. It’s absurd," she said. "I’m hopeful that Tori, who stood on the podium at Rio, gold around her neck and sweetness in her soul, won’t die in vain."

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