Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Talking about a 'Common Secret'

I heard an engrossing interview this morning on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show." Diane spent an hour talking to Dr. Susan Wicklund, whose focus is women's reproductive health. Specifically, abortions. She's written "This Common Secret," a memoir about her time on the front lines of the abortion wars in the Midwest.

You can hear the interview here and read about her memoir on Amazon.com, but I'd like to talk about the main thrust of the interview: the secrecy alluded to her book's title.

Abortion is one of the most taboo topics in America, and one of the most divisive. It seems that we as a culture can't talk about it without screaming. And yet, it's a topic that's not going to go away. We have sex to reproduce, but also because we really like it. No matter how vigilant we try to be, accidents do occur.

I'm one of countless females who have experienced, whether it was for a millisecond or a terrifying span of days, the nausea that comes with uncertainty -- Did I take my pill this morning? That condom didn't really break ... did it? -- and was spared an unwanted pregnancy. But I know women who have had abortions. It was the toughest decision of their lives, and one they felt they had to hide, out of fear of reproach and humiliation.

Dr. Wicklund, author of the book and focus of the interview, had an abortion herself -- a difficult one at age 22. (She's also a mother.) It was when she became a doctor that she realized the number of women struggling with unwanted pregnancies and the desperation to keep such information a secret.

I don't think I have to tell you what a desperate, pregnant woman will do if she feels all her options are gone.

People called into "The Diane Rehm" show during the hour, some women to tell stories of their own abortions and to thank Dr. Wicklund for what she does, others to excoriate the doctor for all the babies she's killed. There were discussions about viability outside the womb and nerve endings and talk of God's plan.

And throughout the interview one thought kept returning to me: At least we're talking about this without screaming. It's a start.


Anonymous said...

You're right, it nice to hear a conversation about a subject like that without everyone yelling, each side always assuming their right and not trying to listen. Even if you don't agree with what someone is saying, it's better to listen and respect their viewpoint than to bring them down or assume they're wrong immediately. Whether people have had abortions or not, don't tell at someone who has... remember, they probably just made one of the most difficult decisions of their life and the last they need is anyone telling me their opinion...

Anonymous said...

I was only able to catch about five minutes of what was obviously a powerful topic (on a consistently wonderful show, btw), and they were discussing the 24-hour waiting period in Mississippi, and the fact that there is only one clinic, and how awful and inconvenient it is to have to wait, drive many miles, get a hotel, etc......and I thought to myself, it's a human life, please think about it one more day......I just thought it was a little tacky to even talk about such inconveniences at all.

I won't condemn someone who has had to make the abortion decision, but it really bothers me when certain groups want abortion with no restrictions. It's scary, really.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that many woman have given a lot of thought to their decision before going to a clinic, and for a government to mandate a 24-waiting period feels insulting, as if a woman hadn't thought about such a thing herself before going to a clinic...

Anonymous said...

I know that it is possible to keep from becoming pregnant. I have consistently used birth control ever since I have been sexually active and have never gotten pregnant. Therefore, I have absolutely no sympathy for women who "accidentally" get pregnant because if you REALLY don't want to get pregnant, you won't. I am anti-abortion and even though I have no children, I will remain so. There is no excuse for getting pregnant if you do not wish to be in today's society. None.

Anonymous said...

One fact remains, every single abortion, no matter what the reason is a human life ended. Why?

One of the most stupid things I've ever seen is a car with the following bumper stickers on it... one reads either (I've seen both) "Stop Capital Punishment NOW!" or "Meat is Murder" along with "We vote Pro-Choice"!

Without the basic, fundamental right to LIFE, there can be no other rights. That's not screaming, that's common sense.

Anonymous said...

Addition to my post "One fact remains, every single abortion, no matter what the reason is a human life ended. Why?"

I'm an adoptive parent. There are more of us out there than there are babies. But abortion providers don't want you to know that. Again, why?

Anonymous said...

To the person calling the waiting period "insulting", as a matter of fact, many women who go to an "abortion clinic" have NOT thought it all out before hand. Many of them are not even of age to legally consent to ear piercing!

Many abortion clinics run under the radar as "pregnancy counseling centers" and there are many reports of young women going in for advice only to be pressured into having an abortion that they didn't originally want!

Some have even been forced to continue an abortion after changing their minds at the last minute!

One of the telling facts of the abortion debate is that those who support abortion fight vigorously to block any attempt to put even the most reasonable standards in place. Did you realize that states have even been blocked from establishing basic health standards that tatoo parlors and barber shops have to meet?!

What's wrong with requiring proper informed consent? How is that "burdensome"? Why is it we're more concerned with a prospective judge's opinions on abortion than on free speech, search and seizure or voting rights?

Why is it that if the mother chooses to keep a baby, the father is responsible for support but if she chooses to kill it, he has no say in the matter?

Why is it that parents of a minor have no say in an abortion, yet are forced to pay for treating the complications that may result?

Anonymous said...

We need to abort those who would consider having an abortion.

Anonymous said...

To Adoptive Parent (3:57, 01/11/08): That is factually incorrect. If you are limiting the statistics to just the United States, you are correct. However, when you take into account the number of orphans worldwide (hundredes of thousands in Africa, hundreds of thousands in eastern Europe/Russia, hundreds of thousands throughout China and the rest of Asia) that statement is untrue; there are many, MANY more orphans than prospective adoptive parents. If you aren't counting those numbers, I'd ask why? And I'd suggest the reasons that you might have dismissed those foreign children (for instance, impracticality of a foreign adoption, i.e. high costs, difficult logistics, improper support for the individual needs of a child, unwillingness to adopt a child of a vastly different culture) are very similar reasons to why many women feel they are unable to take care of their child - don't judge a woman's choice, when you're seemingly limiting the selection of your child based on a similar criteria.