This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor
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This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  997 ratings  ·  216 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, 288 pages
Published December 31st 2007 by PublicAffairs (first published December 7th 2007)
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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...more
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
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...more
Jessica Valenti
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.
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
Eva Leger
Oct 20, 2009 Eva Leger rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
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.
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.
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
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
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...more
Jan 28, 2008 Suzi rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
"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...more
Christy S
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...more
Jun 23, 2008 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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...more
Sushud82 Hudson
This is a great read if you want to reaffirm your beliefs in a woman's right to choose. Part biography, part manifesto, Dr. Wicklund tells some great stories, but the ones I enjoyed most were the more personal and humanizing details of her life. It's a great visual to imagine a single mom pulling her daughter in a wagon around campus trying to earn her degree. She also relates each patient story with empathy and kindness. I could potentially refer a pro-lifer (or "anti choicer" as Dr. Wicklund m...more
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...more
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.
I think the important thing to know before reading this book is that it is autobiographical. It shouldn't be expected to be an objective account of events or the issues. It is very much Dr. Wicklund's personal experiences and doesn't really pretend to be otherwise.

I found the writing a bit dry, but ultimately an easy and non-technical read. There are some stories in the book I found difficult to get through due to the subject matter (in particular, early in the book, a relative of Dr. Wicklund d...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
May 21, 2008 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it 3 of 5 stars
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
This book is absolutely amazing, but also horrifying. When I picked this book up, I was expecting Dr. Wicklund to discuss the emotional toll of protestors and being a doctor. What I wasn't expecting was to be so drawn into her story that I had to stop reading for a few minutes to calm down. I knew that abortion doctors faced challenges from protestors, but I had no idea of the extent to which they dedicate their entire lives to helping women. I would recommend this book to anyone who knows someo...more
This was a quick read, yet emotionally difficult in parts. It follows abortion doctor Susan Wicklund and her cases in several Midwestern states. The book is written from the heart, with no politicking or religous bashing, even though it was certainly warranted in parts. I was actually quite surprised at how calm and sensible the book was written, given the insanity Dr. Wicklund faced and the heartbreaking situations she was put into (including a father who brought in his 12 year old daughter, af...more
Claire S
May 31, 2009 Claire S rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone.
The murder today of George Tiller, a man who performs late-term abortions, brought this book to mind.
I read it a while back, having come across it while book-shopping at some point.
It is a powerful book, bringing the issues to life in a way only possible by someone as enmeshed in them as Susan is.
I was horrified by the violence of the anti-choice protesters, as I am freshly, today.
My personal feeling is that anyone who wants an abortion should be able to get one.
And that anyone who wants th...more
Dr. Wicklund writes, “Abortion is about life: quality of life for infants, children, and adults. Everywhere and in every sense of the word. Life, not death” (p. 33).

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. Susan Wichlund was a 25 year old single mother when she made the decision to go to college and on to medical school. If that isn’t enough of a challenge, sh...more
I checked this book out from the library so long ago that I've had to renew it. I was initally drawn to it by it's cover (Yes- I do judge books by their covers. I have a theory behind it too.)& because I have been more drawn towards memoir-esque books lately.

I finally picked up this book to read two days ago & finished it at midnight last night. WOW. What an impactful read. This book tells the professional & personal struggles of an abortion doctor in the late 80s through today. Havi...more
I saw this author and book on Rachel Maddow after Dr. Tiller was murdered in the summer of 2009. I'm glad I picked it up. I was a child during the mid-1990s rash of abortion clinic bombings and provider murders so it's been easy for me to be somewhat blasé towards abortion rights. Dr. Wicklund's (and her family's) experiences prove otherwise. This book both reaffirmed my belief that the majority of Americans support access to abortion and terrified me in that most of these Americans are generall...more
No one would question the fortitude and perseverance of Dr. Susan Wicklund. In her early 20s, she was a single mom on welfare. She went to college, then medical school, then devoted her career to providing safe abortions. I had a vague idea that abortion providers were harassed by protesters and I'd read articles about extreme cases in which protesters murdered doctors and clinic staff. But I had no idea of the day-to-day struggles these doctors negotiate. Dr. Wicklund was threatened, barricaded...more
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Repro Reads: Dr. Wicklund's abortion experience 4 6 Jan 26, 2014 07:28PM  
Repro Reads: * Articles about Dr. Wicklund 3 3 Jan 25, 2014 10:11AM  
Repro Reads: Flower Grandma 1 3 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.” 1 likes
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