Wicklund, Susan 1954(?)-
Wicklund, Susan 1954(?)-
Born c. 1954; children: Sonja (daughter). Politics: "Pro-choice."
Writer and medical doctor.
(With Alan Kesselheim) This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2007.
Susan Wicklund is a writer and a medical doctor practicing in the area of Wilsall, Montana. Wicklund chose to pursue training in abortive procedures as part of her medical education, which has served as a source of much satisfaction and frustration throughout her professional career. Salon.com contributor Eryn Loeb conducted an interview with Wicklund in which they discussed the doctor's decision to pursue this type of medical practice and how that has affected both her personal and private life. Wicklund stated, "By my own choice, I was trained to do abortions as part of my medical training…. I really felt a personal call to action." In the interview with Loeb, Wicklund described particular situations that resulted in abortive procedures, and she explained that "there is no typical patient situation" and, in order to be a successful medical practitioner, "it's also necessary to really love what you do rather than just feeling obligated to do it." When Loeb asked what prompted her to become cautious and, at times, fearful for her personal safety, Wicklund responded, "When Dr. (David) Gunn was killed [in Florida in 1993], that just changed everything. He was killed the same month that I was getting all these letters from Michael Ross (Ross, an antiabortion extremist, was eventually found guilty of intimidation after sending Wicklund more than 60 threatening letters)." Loeb also questioned Wicklund about the overall contemporary political environment surrounding abortion rights in the United States, and Wicklund responded, "We have fewer rights now [in 2008] than we did 20 years ago. It's getting harder and harder for women to get abortions."
In 2007, Wicklund published This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor, a collection of her experiences in narrative form. In an interview with Debra Sweet for the Revolution Online, Wicklund stated, "The book weaves my life into the lives of my patients." Sweet asked Wicklund what formed her motivations for initiating this text, to which Wicklund replied: "There is so much silence around this issue. We talk about it in the global and legal sense, and talk about the laws, but we're not talking about the individual women." Wicklund added, "My hope is that this book will open a dialogue between women individually, in neighborhoods, in organizations, where we talk about who we are in having abortions." This Common Secret includes statistical and demographical information regarding abortion procedures in the United States, information regarding common terminology used by medical professionals, and an explanation for the need for public awareness regarding this medical procedure and the patient's lives that it potentially affects. Kira Cochrane, writing for the Guardian, found that "the book teems with fascinating, often tragic stories" and "is a compelling account of the hypocrisy and secrecy that surround this subject." Likewise, John R. Guthrie, in an essay for the California Literary Review, reported, "Susan Wicklund has succeeded in putting a human face on a procedure that is controversial enough for some to provide a divisive and emotional political wedge is- sue." Guthrie cited Wicklund's personal experience with abortion, "in surroundings that were hostile and intimidating," and her path to becoming a doctor, which included her initial service as a midwife, and he pointed out that "her personal story is one of remarkable determination and is likely to have a particular human appeal for many." In an essay for the New York Times Online, Eyal Press responded to Wicklund's support of women's abortion rights and concluded, "Wicklund may never convince the protesters who demonized her that women should be free to make such decisions on their own. But in sharing her secrets, she has shown why there is much honor in having spent a lifetime attempting to ensure they do."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2007, Donna Chavez, review of This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor, p. 11.
Conscience, March 22, 2008, Bill Williams, "A Hero to All She Helped," p. 43.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2007, review of This Common Secret.
California Literary Review Online,http://calitreview.com/300/ (January 2, 2008), John R. Guthrie, review of This Common Secret.
Guardian Online,http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (April 5, 2008), Kira Cochrane, "The Mother Load," review of This Common Secret.
New York Times Online,http://www.nytimes.com/ (January 20, 2008), Eyal Press, "The Abortionist," review of This Common Secret; (November 6, 2007), Cornelia Dean, "Telling the Stories behind the Abortions," review of This Common Secret.
Revolution Online,http://www.indybay.org/ (January 14, 2008), Debra Sweet, interview with author.
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (January 22, 2008), Eryn Loeb, "The Abortion Doctor," review of This Common Secret.