Aftershock (2022)

Aftershock (2022)

A modest but still urgent discussion starter about institutionalized discrimination in healthcare

7.1

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary
2022
FEMALE DIRECTOR, PAULA EISELT
86 min

TLDR

It's not our fault for not reading the fine print when profit-driven industries actively make the fine print harder to read.

What it's about

Two men and their respective families seek to start a movement demanding change in maternal healthcare for Black women, after their partners die of complications from childbirth.

The take

Although limited by the timeframe in which it was released—that is, before its characters really got to finish organizing themselves in response to the film's subject matter—Aftershock still provides a detailed primer on the ways the American healthcare system has been manipulated to take advantage of the underprivileged. The documentary can get technical but since it grounds its reporting on two tragic stories of preventable loss, there's more than enough reason to pay full attention. It definitely isn't meant to answer every question about pregnancy care, but it definitely compels deeper inquiry into the ways we've been socialized into perceiving romantic notions about childbirth.

What stands out

The film's most damning revelation comes when it gets in-depth about seemingly unrelated pricing for C-sections and insurance reimbursements. Caught up in the stress and joy of having a baby, it's understandable that couples might not notice how these two things can intersect. But for patients who aren't deemed "high priority" (in this case, unfortunately, Black mothers), these factors create a deadly incentive to rush a person into major surgery that might not even be necessary. Learning about this feels like a truly cutting betrayal of the oath that healthcare practitioners supposedly take—sabotaged by some hospitals' drive to make more money quickly.

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