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Harris talks maternal health with Olympian Allyson Felix

Associated Press/Christophe Ena
U.S Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech during the Paris Peace Forum, in Paris, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Some world leaders and internet giants are expected to issue a global call to better protect children online during a Paris summit of about 30 heads of state and government, including U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

Allyson Felix is stressing the importance of maternal health, saying in a Tuesday sit-down with Vice President Harris that it’s an issue that “doesn’t discriminate.”

“We cannot be a society that is losing mothers,” Harris said in her chat with the Olympic sprinter as part of the White House’s inaugural Maternal Health Day of Action. “And it’s so preventable.”

“I don’t think you should have to choose between your profession and having a family — to be able to do both and be able to do both very well,” said Felix, who in August set a record for the most Olympic medals won by any American track and field athlete.

“I know my own experience when I decided to start a family and not being supported ultimately by my former sponsor, and just what that looked like and how it made me feel that I wasn’t valued,” Felix said during the wide-ranging discussion. “So many women who came before me, who struggled and weren’t celebrated,” Felix said.

The 36-year-old athlete recalled being diagnosed with severe preeclampsia while pregnant with her daughter, before undergoing an emergency C-section at 32 weeks. Felix gave birth to her daughter, Camryn, in 2018.

“You’re talking about supporting mothers to mother,” Harris said. “That’s about from the pregnancy, through childbirth, and then all that comes after.”

Maternal mortality rates in the United States are among the highest in the developed world, according to the White House.

It’s not the first time that Harris and Felix joined forces to promote maternal health — the pair discussed the same topic in an Instagram Live session last year.

Tags Allyson Felix Maternal death Maternal health maternal mortality maternal mortality rate Reproductive health

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