(Please welcome in the comments Dr. Susan Wicklund, author ofThis Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor — jh)
The timing of this book salon couldn’t be more fortuitous, since Physician for Reproductive Health have declared Monday, March 10th to be National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. This appreciation day is specially marked to thank the providers who risked conflicts with law enforcement in the pro-Roe era, but as the thank you letter expresses (you can sign it here), it’s been anything but easy for the brave men and women who have made relieving women of unwanted pregnancy part of their lives’ work.
Roe ended the threat of jail hanging over an abortion providers’ head, but it didn’t stop the woes that befall someone who fights on the individual for a woman’s right to self-determination, when so many people in our society believe that women’s own opinions about when and how they have children shouldn’t be a factor in when and how it happens. Anti-choicers, furious at losing state control over women’s bodies, have instead turned their desire to control and punish onto the doctors, stalking them, harassing them, stalking their family members, harassing anyone who does business with them, and sometimes even resorting to vandalism, assault, and murder. Dr. Susan Wicklund’s remarkable book This Common Secret describes in harrowing detail the misery rained upon her by the misogynist, control freak anti-choice movement, and how she persevered, gun and bulletproof jacket in hand, to make clinic every scheduled day to help women in desperate circumstances to terminate their pregnancies.
I consider this book a must-read for anyone who considers him or herself pro-choice. Well, and for anyone who considers himself “pro-life”—maybe it would help you wake up if you realized that the people you’re oppressing are actual human beings. In all the hubbub about abortion rights, what all too often gets lost are the stories of women and of doctors who serve them, which makes it that much easier for the anti-choice movement to dehumanize women and doctors and chip away at abortion rights. Dr. Wicklund corrects this problem, telling her own inspiring story about a single mother who put herself through medical school and then spent her career in what might be the most thankless branch of medicine. It’s a powerful argument for a life well spent doing good; through even her worst times, you get the impression that Dr. Wicklund has a strong center that comes to her from a life spent doing right.
The book is also an exercise in exploring the radical notion that women are human. The abortion procedure is a simple, straightforward process, but the life paths that lead women into Dr. Wicklund’s clinic never are. Reading the book, I felt at times a feeling all too strange for many women, the feeling of being accepted just as is. You definitely get the feeling you could come to Dr. Wicklund for help, and you would get it without being judged, quizzed to establish that you have the right sexual past to “deserve” your rights. Every race, age, and background—women come to Dr. Wicklund for help and Dr. Wicklund provides it. It should be that simple, but very rarely is.
Abortion providers get called names like “butcher” and “murderer” all the time, but I have a much more accurate word: hero. And I’m thrilled to be here today to discuss This Common Secret with y’all and the hero who wrote this memoir.