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This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor Hardcover – December 31, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In rational, compassionate and honest language, Wicklund chronicles more than 20 years as a medical doctor and women's health provider with a "fundamental commitment to patients and to the cause of keeping reproductive rights safe and legal," a commitment that would put herself and her family under direct threat from anti-abortion extremists, and cause her to adopt disguises and even a personal bodyguard in order to continue her work. Wicklund's story is gripping and poignant, not only for its numerous personal accounts-including Wicklund's own experience terminating her pregnancy-but in her consideration of current and proposed reproductive rights legislation; in addition to eye-opening statistics ("In 2006, 87% of counties in the United States had no abortion provider"), Wicklund provides a fine resource guide for further reading. Though a digression concerning her parents' unrelated health issues derails the narrative, and she fails to discuss abortion law in other developed countries, this topical memoir will make a compelling read for anyone interested in women's health and reproductive rights in America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"This Common Secret is a riveting and heartbreaking memoir from the front lines of the abortion wars. Susan Wicklund is a true American hero. You will be amazed, enraged and inspired by her story." -- Maryanne Vollers, author of Ghosts of Mississippi, Lone Wolf, and co-author of Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole, August 1, 2007

"Gripping, deeply moving . . . a compelling memoir." -- Christian Science Monitor, February 25, 2008

"Ms. Wicklund's book, This Common Secret, is a rarity in this day and age - the odyssey of a courageous woman who refuses to compromise her morality and is willing to pay an enormous price for acting on her compassion and sense of justice without ever stooping to a flicker of self-pity. This book is at times funny, often horrifying, and, like Ms. Wicklund herself, always inspiring." -- Margot Kidder

"Through [Wicklund's] story is harrowing, the stories of the women she serves are becoming even more so as the number of obstacles blocking their reproductive choices increase, thanks to ever more conservative legislators." -- Booklist, December 1, 2007

"Too often the abortion debate is framed in abstractions about the `unborn' and their rights. This Common Secret puts flesh and blood on the issue and gives it a woman's face. Thank you, Susan Wicklund, both for your amazing courage as an abortion provider and for your wonderful honesty and openness as a writer." -- Barbara Ehrenreich
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition first Printing edition (December 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158648480X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586484804
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and I cried through half of it. Dr. Wicklund is extremely open about her life and what she's had to go through to provide women with the choice that is their legal right to make. Flying to 3 states every week. Spending 6 days a week away from her family. Death threats. Being surrounded and screamed at by angry protesters in the airport every-single-week for years. Having her house surrounded and her daughter targeted. She constantly fears for her life. Could you do this? Even if you really believed in what you were doing? I can only hope to be as strong as she is.

I will be interested in what reasonable pro-lifers think of this book. As written, Dr. Wicklund is the kind of doctor that they should look as kindly on as possible for them. She believes in real counseling. She sends patients home if she doesn't think they are sure about their choice - and she asks them if they are sure over and over and over. She only performs 1st semester abortions. She reports statutory rapes to Social Services. She's even honest about issues in women's clinics that aren't as well run and works to fix the problems. Does she really deserve the treatment she's subjected to?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing, shocking, and educative piece of literature. Easy, impressive read. Describes what steps extremists are willing to take who seem to lack the ability to accept, or respect, people's opinions, if they are different from their own. The actions the extremists take border on or sometimes even cross into insanity.
The book offers excellent material for a movie that most likely would turn into a huge success, which may offer the possibility for people like Sue Wicklund to go about their jobs without fear for their lives, help people who are seeking Sue's services to not get harrassed for what they believe needs to be done.
I have the utmost respect for Sue Wicklund and other abortion doctors, as they do not give up, even in the face of danger.
Well done, Sue!!!! A++++++++++++++++
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, easy to read and captivating emotionally with every page. I thought it was well written and would recommend for anyone, no matter your beliefs on abortion. Overall, an excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm pro-choice and although I don't think I would have an abortion (a moot point & this stage of my life), I feel the right should be legal and safe for women who may want or need them. I will save readers my deep opinion about the matter as not to make this review political or hateful but I will say that it's absurd what anti-abortion zealots are able to do and get away with. Stalking, threats, invasion of privacy, violence including murder. Dr. Wicklund is a brave, caring doctor and I admire her tenacity to help women despite the ridiculous, outrageous behavior of this zealots. Her story covers the years she dedicated herself to helping women in spite of these threats & sadly at the risk of losing her marriage and missing her daughter growing up.
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Format: Hardcover
Susan Wicklund MD is a personal friend of mine. Reading this book was like talking with her. She is honest and shares her experiences and beliefs about abortion and women's rights. I did find the book very sad and scarey because of what some people consider their right to impose on others. Sue talked about having to carry a gun to work but I didn't know all the other impediments she went through. If you care about women you should read this book.
Katie Sundquist
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is unfortunate and frustrating that women's healthcare and it's provision remains stigmatized in America. In this unique book, Susan Wicklund talks about how she decided to become an abortion provider, and the daily struggles which persevere to deliver the humane and compassionate care which are provided to all women.

Even at my most frustrating job position, I've never had to wear a disguise to slip in the front door. I've also never been stalked by zealous fanatics. This book unapologetically advocates a pro-choice perspective, but it also has a bit of wry humor mixed in. After getting herself worked up what her grandmother would think, Wicklund ultimately learned that relative also supported reproductive freedom, having had a friend who died from an illegal abortion.

The culling of journal entries for this book gives it an additional intimate feel. As a student of the body politic, I've read my share of conventional accounts. But this brings back the doctors voice themselves. Wicklund's is careful to delineate that a doctor (contrasting with the one who had performed her own abortion) must talk with the women about their decision. A truly feminist counseling model respects a woman's right to undergo an abortion procedure, while also making sure that they were not pressured to undergo an abortion. It is the woman themselves who has to decide what they want to do with their own bodies.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a nurse who is 100% pro-choice, pro-homebirth, and pro-midwifery, I must say that I really liked this book. Dr. Wicklund is an amazing woman and is now one of my heroes. As I said before, I am stanchly pro-choice and I aspire to be a homebirth midwife. To many anti-choice people, this may seem like a contradiction, but's it's really not. Some of them operate under the misconception that being pro-choice means that you hate children and want all women to have abortions. This book shows that's 100% false. I was pleasantly surprised to read that Dr. Wicklund not only gave birth to her own daughter at home, but also attended several homebirths as a lay-midwife in the 70s before going to medical school. In the book, she speaks how much she loved attending homebirths and her co-author mentions in the back of the book that she attended his daughter's birth at home after she opened her abortion clinic. Most of the people in my family are anti-choice and cannot understand how I can be both pro-choice and pro-homebirth, so I was very happy to find out that I'm not the only one who supports both.

I also loved reading her stories about her clinic and how she stood up to the protestors and the people who threatened her. The story about the aunt and uncle who came down to try to stop their niece's abortion and scared the staff had me on the edge of the seat. I love the way Dr. Wicklund and her staff handled that situation and I also loved how they got that little girl away from her sex-offender father. She's willing to fight for what she believes in and will not allow herself to be bullied. It takes a lot of guts to go face to face with people who openly state that they want you dead. I really admire her spirit, and that is why I consider her to be a hero.
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