Allyson Felix testified Thursday at the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee hearing on overcoming racial disparities and social determinants in the maternal mortality crisis.
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 16, 2019
Felix is a multi-time Olympic and World Championship gold medallist in the 200m and 400m, who spoke up this week about her experience giving birth. She suffered from preeclampsia that led to an emergency C-section at only 32 weeks. The runner kept her pregnancy a secret for several months, continuing to compete when she was four months pregnant. The baby was due in January 2019, but at a routine checkup, Felix was found to have high blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat was alarmingly slow. Felix gave birth to daughter Camryn on November 28, 2018.
Thursday’s testimony, the entire video can be found here, saw Felix share her story about her near-death experience during child birth. “I would like to share the story of the two most terrifying days of my entire life… My doctors told me that not only way my baby at risk, but I was at risk too. All I cared about in that moment was that my daughter would survive.”
Felix went on to describe that she had top-notch health care, was in excellent physical shape, and had done everything right, but she still dealt with a near-death experience while giving birth. Following her pregnancy, Felix learned that her story wasn’t uncommon, that many other women experienced similar complications. “They faced death like me too, and as I started to talk to more of those women and hear about their experiences, I learned that black women are nearly four times more likely to die from childbirth than white mothers are in the United States and that we suffer severe complications twice as often.”
Felix was urging the committee to provide African American women with more support during their pregnancies. According to the Washington Post, she was among six witness to speak.