Synopses & Reviews
One doctor's raw and riveting memoir, contrasting the headline-grabbing political rhetoric with the contours of her life, and the lives of her patients.
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 common experience remains.
This is the story of Susan's love for a profession that means listening to women and helping them through one of the most pivotal and controversial events in their lives. Hers is also a calling that means sleeping on planes and commuting between clinics in different states and that requires her to wear a bulletproof vest and to carry a .38 caliber revolver. This is also the story of the women whom Susan serves, women whose options are increasingly limited.
Through these intimate, complicated, and inspiring accounts, Wicklund reveals the truth about the women's clinics that anti-abortion activists portray as little more than slaughterhouses for the unborn. As we enter the most fevered political fight over abortion America has ever seen, this raw and powerful memoir shows us what is at stake.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
"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
"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
"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
"All this is either admirable or reprehensible, depending on your position on abortion, but Wicklund and co-author Kesselheim have no doubts: She is eligible for sainthood right now....In a genre known for self-celebration, this is Self-Celebration." Kirkus Reviews
Dr. Wicklund chronicles her emotional and dramatic 20-year career on the front lines of the abortion war. Through her intimate, complicated, and inspiring accounts, Wicklund reveals the truth about the women's clinics and the lives of her patients.
One doctor's raw and riveting memoir, contrasting the headline-grabbing political rhetoric with the contours of her life, and the lives of her patients
About the Author
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
Alan Kesselheim is a full-time freelance writer from Bozeman, Montana. This Common Secret is his ninth book.