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This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,429 Ratings  ·  260 Reviews
In This Common Secret Dr. Susan Wicklund chronicles her emotional and dramatic twenty-year career on the front lines of the abortion war. Growing up in working class, rural Wisconsin, Wicklund had her own painful abortion at a young age. It was not until she became a doctor that she realized how many women shared her ordeal of an unwanted pregnancy—and how hidden this comm ...more
Hardcover, 268 pages
Published December 31st 2007 by PublicAffairs (first published December 7th 2007)
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Jan 13, 2008 Leena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
This story exposes all the grays.

I'm so happy this book was written, yet am sad that it had to be. Whether we like it or not, abortions have always been around.

This is the story of one abortion provider. She treats women in the midwest and west, areas of the country that face challenges to abortion that I'm not used to thinking about, living here in NY.

I am a pro-choice, feminist activist, just to lay that out on the line. I was actually a little put off by some of the boundaries that the doc
Jan 16, 2016 El rated it really liked it
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
Anyone who has spent any more than about five or ten minutes with me will understand that I am pro-choice. This does not necessarily mean pro-abortion, or anti-life. This means that I believe the choice to receive an abortion is up to each and every individual woman, since it involves her body. It does not matter if I agree with her reasons for choosing an abortion; it only matters that I allow her to make the decision herself (without pressure from anyone else) and, if necessary, assist her in ...more
Jul 06, 2008 Mazola1 rated it really liked it
Dr. Susan Wicklund worked in women's reproductive health for over twenty years. In that capacity, she was often the only doctor who would perform abortions in many areas of midwestern or rural states, such as Montana and Minnesota. Dr. Wicklund's memoir is written in a clear and almost matter of fact manner, but the story it tells is anything but dry and academic. Her book puts a human face on the issue of abortion in America today. The book provides unforgettable portraits of the women who get ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Alexa rated it really liked it
Shelves: fab-16
This is a thoughtful and engaging look at a miserable situation. A beautiful example of just how intertwined the personal and the political truly are.
Jessica Valenti
Feb 24, 2009 Jessica Valenti rated it it was amazing
Too often when we think of abortion we think of the legislation, policy and politics surrounding it. And when it does get personal it's generally the woman having the abortion who we hear from...the provider tends to get lost. So I really loved hearing from an abortion provider - as hard as her story was to hear, sometimes. This is a book that reminds you how grateful we should be to abortion providers who literally risk their lives to make sure women have reproductive choices.
Apr 18, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Quick read.

Two new to me things stand out:
1. I didn't know what the procedure of an actual abortion was until I read this book (it didn't get so very technical). It is amazing what a little de-rhetoric-ing looks like.
2. I want to volunteer, support, speak up, protect, help women and abortion providers. What shitty working conditions the pro-lifers and our legislature have created for an essential service. Unfortunately, the opportunities to be supportive are plentiful thanks to this War on Wome
Feb 28, 2015 MomIsReading rated it it was amazing
I've been meaning to read this book for over 4 years now. Since my daughter used it as reference for her senior seminar project. Reading her pen scribbled notes all over in the margin made me proud. I'm always proud of her but her strong yet sensitive convictions about this book and her bravery of picking a pro-choice topic in a mainly conservative location we lived at that time showed her strength. I had many post it notes as I read, intending to refer to them as I wrote this review. In the end ...more
Eva Leger
Oct 20, 2009 Eva Leger rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anti-lifers
I had many problems with this book, some of which I'll get into in a moment. First I want to say that I rated this book, not based on my own opinion and thoughts, but on the actual book itself, the way it's written, the amount of talent the author has for writing, etc. Had I rated it on my own personal opinions it would have gotten nothing.
Now I'll get into some of the things that bothered me about Wicklund. At first, while still reading and thinking of my future review of this, I thought I wou
Feb 18, 2008 'Auli'i rated it really liked it
This woman is one tough cookie and an admirable fighter in the controversial battle over a woman's right to choose, and I have great respect for the work that she has done. The world would be a better place with more people like Susan Wicklund.

The book, however, could be tighter. The narrative veers off at times and is sometimes clunky when she starts lecturing the reader.
Mar 04, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow... this book was hard to read at times, especially when the author talks about all that she went through to do her job and to help the women who needed her. I think that reading her story just reinforces how important a woman's right to choose is, and makes us grateful that there are doctors out there who are as dedicated and compassionate as Dr. Wicklund.
Aug 05, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it
As Susan Wicklund points out, rarely is abortion discussed beyond political rhetoric based on untruths, despite the fact that 40% of American women have had/will have an abortion in their lifetime. As she more astutely speculates, perhaps the freedom of nearly half the population of the country to make personal medical decisions would not be constantly endangered if men, instead of women, were the child-bearing half of the species. Are there any other surgeries that are the subject of divisive p ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Ciara rated it it was amazing
This book, like this doctor, is amazing. I read it in one sitting, and it brought me to tears many times over. As a doctor providing legal abortions in clinics across the midwest and west, Dr. Wicklund tells of the constant struggle to ensure she's acting in every patient's best interest. She is a workaholic, and is also struggling to maintain her marriage and her identity as a mother, while flying three to four times a week all over the country. Finally, the threat of violence against abortion ...more
Ana Negreiros
Jan 24, 2014 Ana Negreiros rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-library
I should have learned by now to keep myself from discussing abortion with most people. Simply because most people have absolutely no grasp of the reality of abortion, nor do they try to inform themselves. This Common Secret is one of the best books I've read on the subject, and Dr. Susan is a true example of a strong, admirable woman. To face everything she did because she believed it was her job to give women the choice they deserve is proof of her bravery and dedication. To read about how she ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Theresa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the true story of Susan Wicklund’s life as a doctor who specialized in women’s health and who travelled extensively, at risk to her and her family’s life, performing abortions.

She starts the story with the day that she came home to tell Flower Grandma (a name her daughter had given her maternal grandmother) that she was working as an abortion doctor. She had to do this, because she was about to be interviewed on a segment of “60 Minutes” and she knew that Flower Grandma watched “60 Minut
Jun 23, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 2008
This is a very powerful and interesting book. Wicklund really lays it all out there for the reader, including diary entries. For someone who mostly reads irony filled fiction, the sincerity of this book made me a bit uncomfortable at times. The focus is on abortion of course, but it was also really interesting for me to just read a story about a woman going through med school and building a career regardless of her speciality. I realized that we don't get to see that much - how a career path can ...more
Mar 26, 2010 Belle rated it did not like it
Ugh. Where to begin?
First off, let me just go ahead and say that I am a feminist. Yes, that's right, a 100% feminist. However, I always seem to hit a nerve with my fellow feminists over this issue of abortion.
I read this book to see if just possibly the book would be realistic and not praise abotion and be basically propoganda for "pro-choice."
This book did nothing but show me again that "pro-choice" people are basing their reasoning for why abortion should be legal on something completely
Courtney McCarroll
Jan 31, 2016 Courtney McCarroll rated it really liked it
This wasn’t an easy one, and maybe not for the most obvious reasons. I can’t say it enough: I’m really glad that there are people out there like Susan Wicklund who go through literal hell and back to give women the care they need. Living your life in fear—sneaking out through your backyard in the middle of the night to get to your clinic because there’s an army of protestors outside your house waiting to pounce—takes serious guts, and I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for her. ...more
Christina Brummett
Sep 27, 2014 Christina Brummett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Pro-choice? Read it. Anti-abortion? Unsure? Don't care. Read it anyway. This plain-spoken, gripping tale of Susan Wicklund's harrowing life as an abortion provider will remind you of the reality behind the black-and white sounding battle for women's reproductive health going on in our country and around the world. I can't recommend this book enough. I'll definitely be buying at least one copy for myself and possibly a couple more for donating...
Aug 09, 2008 Veronica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This is an amazing book. Everyone in the pro-choice community should read this. If you're open-minded enough, those who are against abortion should also read this book to gain an insight into what the radical anti-abortion forces are doing to the lives of providers. My full review is on my site.
Books Ring Mah Bell
May 21, 2008 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women, young and old
Shelves: womens-interest
I cannot come up with any sort of review for this... I think some of the anti's need to read this to understand WHY the doc does what she does. I did not say condone, or agree, but just try to understand this woman and her patients.
Nov 28, 2008 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in reproductive rights
Recommended to Ellen by: a fellow activist
Shelves: novel-research
Excellent, excellent book written by an amazing and compassionate doctor. A must-read for anyone interested in reproductive rights, no matter which side of the fence you're on.
Amore Duzenski
Mar 26, 2015 Amore Duzenski rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly well written, insightful, tragic, and so beautiful.

I'm surprised I'm saying these things about a book that is pro choice simply because I grew up in an extremely sheltered and religious family. It wasn't uncommon for the people I knew from church to share stories of protesting outside of clinics and "street counseling" potential clients. I never participated myself.

Moving out of my mother's house was the best thing for me for many reasons. I started exploring a world ou
Jun 24, 2015 Tessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-nonfiction
As someone who was already pro-choice, this book reaffirmed my convictions, but more importantly it taught me new things. I knew that protestors gathered in front of clinics, spewing rhetoric, and I even knew that some abortion clinics had been bombed and some providers assassinated. However, I always thought these were freak incidents and never considered that an abortion provider might live under constant threats, be stalked and assaulted routinely, and even have people camp out in her lawn, p ...more
Jan 28, 2008 Suzi rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in women's rights
I read this book in one day; it was engaging and informative and I highly recommend it. I have always considered myself a feminist and prochoice, but those beliefs have strengthened very much since this fall, when Planned Parenthood opened a new clinic in my home town. All the antichoice crazies came out, and brought me face to face with sheer ignorance on both the abprtion issue and on women's rights in general. Susan Wicklund is a courageous woman to write this book and to have told her story ...more
Gina Morphy
Jul 29, 2015 Gina Morphy rated it really liked it
Susan Wicklund tells the story of how she was inspired to become an abortion doctor after her own scarring experience as a teenager. She recounts countless tales of women in dire situations, desperate for the procedure, who travel hundreds of miles with little to no money. The most terrifying part of the book is all of the accounts of protesters and 'antis' who stalk, threaten, and sometimes murder these doctors advocating for women's rights. The book was most definitely informative, and it make ...more
"This Common Secret" is a slim, but powerful, volume on Dr. Susan Wicklund's experience as an abortion provider in the Midwest and West. It is easy, even as a pro-choice woman, to slide into complacency about the right for women to control their reproductive destiny. A reminder about how difficult it is day-to-day to be an abortion provider is refreshing, if completely enraging and saddening.

The harassment, threats, and assaults Dr. Wicklund endured will make you spit nails - the "anti" fanatics
Christy S
Dec 31, 2009 Christy S rated it liked it
This isn't great writing, nor is it a book about the many perspectives and issues surrounding abortion. It is, however, a complete and compelling story of one woman's process becoming an abortion doctor, trying to live her life and raise a doughter amidst protest, violence, and controversy, and fine-tuning what this work could or should look like in true service to women.

The title gave me the impression that it would be more about the women from all walks of life who have found themselves termi
Anita Fajita Pita
Jan 11, 2016 Anita Fajita Pita rated it really liked it
This is a powerfully important piece of work. It directly addresses the importance of women's healthcare and reproductive rights. It stresses the importance of choice. unfortunately, it also highlights how anti-abortionists have managed to permeate our governing boards and politics.

While the majority of Americans may be pro-choice, when it comes down to it we do not actually support this by providing legislature, education, and funding for all of the steps involved in the reproductive process.
Apr 14, 2010 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2010, adult
I am only 100 pages in to this book but I have already spent ten minutes straight talking about it/railing against abortion protesters to Mike. I think that means I am INVOLVED.

Okay, now I have finished it and would like to sit in front of CPCs handing it out. ABORTIONS FOR SOME, TINY AMERICAN FLAGS FOR OTHERS? Sure, maybe Wicklund's account of being an abortion provider is a tad glossy (Some women are so happy to get abortions! Other women are empathetically counseled and choose to keep their p
Dec 26, 2009 Amelia rated it liked it
While I didn't think this book was particularly well-written, I couldn't put it down; I think this book will stay with me. Reproductive health is something I'm very passionate about; I don't need to be convinced that access to a safe & legal abortion is really, really important. And that's the very point this book sets out to prove. I didn't expect to get much more out of it than an affirmation of my beliefs.

The stories of the women in this book floored me. Several times, I had to put the bo
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The F-word: January NON-FICTION selection THIS COMMON SECRET 47 60 Mar 25, 2016 05:18PM  
Repro Reads: Dr. Wicklund's abortion experience 4 9 Jan 26, 2014 07:28PM  
Repro Reads: * Articles about Dr. Wicklund 3 6 Jan 25, 2014 10:11AM  
Repro Reads: Flower Grandma 1 4 Jan 23, 2014 01:54PM  
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Susan Wicklund has worked in the field of women's reproductive health for more than twenty years. For much of that time she has been on the front lines of the abortion war, both as a doctor and as a spokeswoman for women's rights. She has been interviewed by numerous leading media outlets, including 60 Minutes and "Fresh Air."
More about Susan Wicklund...

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“It’s taboo in our society to discuss abortion on anything less than a political level, but I know the truth. Someone close to each and every one of us has had an abortion. The experience is common, but I do not believe it is taken lightly. Women who have exercised their right to choose never forget.” 4 likes
“I could see the crowd gathered there, one hundred of them, I guessed, maybe more. All people who hated me, whose only objective was to keep me from my work. Under the pious, prayerful guise of religion, they were after control: Control of me. Control of the women coming to the clinic for help. Control of anyone who believed differently than they.” 1 likes
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