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Retired Olympian Allyson Felix Call for Change After Death of Teammate Due to Childbirth Complications

Former USA track star Allyson Felix mourns ‘black maternal mortality crisis’ after Tori Bowie’s passing. Bowie was found dead last month at 32.

An autopsy report from the Orange County (Florida) Medical Examiner’s Office obtained by USA TODAY Sports said the Olympian was “undergoing labor at the time of her death.”

Bowie could have experienced respiratory distress or eclampsia, a rare condition which can cause seizures.

Tributes have poured in for 2016 three-time Olympic medalist, who was described as a ‘Queen’ by Sha’Carri Richardson.

On Tuesday, Felix shared a post by fellow 2016 4x100m gold medalist Tianna Madison.

She also picked up a silver (in the 100-m) and bronze (200-m) in Brazil. The next year, at the 2017 World Championships in London, Tori won the 100-m title, earning the title of “world’s fastest woman.”

Felix responded via her Instagram story, reiterating the statistic before saying; ‘It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“We continue to face a black maternal mortality crisis in this country. We have to do more.”

Felix wrote in her Instagram story

Bowie, Felix, Madison and English Gardner are all African-American women. Felix suffered from life-threatening pre-eclampsia while 32 weeks pregnant and had to give birth via an emergency cesarean section.

Madison detailed her own difficult pregnancy in the same post Tuesday.

“Even though I went into labor at 26 weeks we went to the hospital with my medical advance directive AND my will,” she wrote.

Additionally I had a VERY tough conversation with [my partner] about who to save if it came down to it. I was NOT AT ALL confident that I’d be coming home,’ she added.

Felix’s essay highlighted what she called “a Black Maternal Health crisis” in the United States, pushing for more awareness about potential complications from pregnancy and what actions women can take as a result.

“I would love to have another child. That’s something that I know for sure. But will I be here to raise that child? That’s a very real concern. And that’s a terrifying thing. This is America, in 2023, and Black women are dying while giving birth. It’s absurd,” Felix wrote.

“I’m hopeful that things can get better. 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.”

“Like so many Black women, I was unaware of the risks I faced while pregnant. According to the CDC, in 2021 the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 2.6 times the rate for white women,” Felix wrote.

She added: “That needs to change, now, especially in light of Tori’s tragic passing. Awareness is huge. Serena Williams had near-death complications during her pregnancy. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia. I hate that it takes Tori’s situation to put this back on the map and to get people to pay attention to it. But oftentimes, we need that wake-up call.”

Felix is the most decorated female Olympian in track and field, having won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal during her career.

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Written by Darnell Simmons

Investigative Journalist, social analysis