Aftershock Review

Originally published on Left Voice

Shain Slepian

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Amber Rose Isaac, Sharmony Gibson, and Kira Johnson wanted to be mothers. Anti-choice America is currently doing everything it can to portray the pro-choice majority as callous and irresponsible. They tend to leave out that we are the ones fighting for the rights of parents and their children.

Directors Tonya Lewis Lee and Paula Eiselt display the disastrous effects of the for-profit medical industry on Black pregnant people in Aftershock, which debuted on July 19th on Hulu. Not only does a medical system based on profit cause death and pain: it strips birth, an event which is transformative and meaningful for so many people, down to a joyless, mechanical problem that needs to be solved. And for all too many Black people, it leads to death in a racist, for profit medical system. Black women die three times more than white women as a result of labor.

The racial inequality in maternal care is inextricably linked to the economy. Because of income inequality and America’s abysmal medical insurance system, Black women are far more likely to give birth in hospitals and clinics. There are no internists with specialize natal plans and individualized attention: often enough, there isn’t even emergency care.

Amber Rose Isaac died due to complications in her pregnancy that the hospital should have easily spotted months prior; a low platelet count that had been dropping for months should have told doctors that a C-section was out of the question. Her partner Bruce McIntyre III described her blood as being “water-like” as an inexperienced team cut her open after inducing labor. Being April of 2020 in New York City — the height of the coronavirus pandemic — Amber Rose died alone.

The issue of poor maternal care in hospitals is not restricted to Black women, but it is certainly exacerbated by racism. Bruce expressed the hostility Amber Rose was subjected to at every professional level, from security to the receptionists, and even to the OB treating her. He was called ‘Mr. Babydaddy,’ cheapening the relationship between the two, even as he did everything in his power to save her life.

Sharmony Gibson died in 2019 of medical malpractice two weeks after delivery: her partner, Omari Maynard, and mother Shawnee Benton-Gibson…

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Shain Slepian

Shain is a screenwriter and screenplay editor. For more content, follow their blog and check out their YouTube channel, TimeCapsule. shainslepian.com/