This Common Secret:
My Journey as an Abortion Doctor

by Susan Wicklund (with Alan Kesselheim)


Public Affairs, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58648-480-4.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 12/28/2007

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Cultural/Gender Focus; Nonfiction: Body Language; Nonfiction: American Women in Their Cultural/Historical Context

Abortion is a tough thing to talk about, to discuss, to do. There are only hard questions with no easy answers.

In her memoir, This Common Secret, Susan Wicklund steps forward and looks the issue straight in the eye. Shortly after Roe v., Wade legalized the process in this country, Wicklund had an abortion for a pregnancy she knew shouldn't be. It was terrifying.

So terrifying that several years later after a fulfilling birthing experience made her the mother of a much-desired young daughter, she became a midwife. This led her to medical school and a career—but more than a career, a life in the service of women's health.

Abortion and its ramifications occupy the center of Wicklund's medical practice and of this book, but it is by no means all. Wicklund is concerned with the total health and dignity of all women; her life and her practice reflects this. She shares the stories of herself, her family and many of her patients, stories that take place not only in the surgical chamber but in the streets, facing down protestors, and in her home, where she is deeply concerned with the safety of her own child. These stories confirm that pregnancies, both wanted and undesired, bring hard choices to be carefully made.

Wicklund is much to be admired, both for her care and compassion in treating her patients and her candor in sharing these intimate stories. This is a book to be read with thoughtful consideration


A women's reproductive health physician, Susan Wicklund has been in practice for over twenty years. She has appeared on many venues, including CBS and PBS, to discuss her positions and her experience. She has one daughter, Sonja. You can read an article by Dr. Wicklund and a short essay about the writing of her book.

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