This Common Secret

July 11, 2013

Wicklund’s book, This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor, was co-written with Alan Kesselheim and published by PublicAffairs in 2007; it is a memoir that includes her own life and some of her patients’ stories. The title refers to the procedure of abortion, which is common in that 40% of American women have an abortion at some point in their lives—making it more prevalent than wisdom tooth removal or tonsillectomy—and a secret in that individual women are often ashamed of or reluctant to speak about their abortions. Wicklund said that she hoped the book would foster discussion of abortion on a personal level.

Among the patients whose stories are included; a regular anti-abortion protester at the clinic who silently turned to Wicklund for help when she had an unwanted pregnancy and a woman who lost her job because the state mandated a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, obliging the patient to miss several days of work for multiple visits. Wicklund also describes the experience of revealing to her maternal grandmother that she was an abortion provider, a disclosure that she expected would receive her grandmother’s disapproval. Instead, her grandmother told Wicklund that she was proud of her work, saying that when she was sixteen, her best friend got pregnant and bled to death from an unsafe self-induced abortion.

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