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Doctor Reflects on 35 Years of ‘Roe v. Wade’

January 22, 2008

Seattle, WA – Tuesday is the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, affirming a woman's legal right to have an abortion in the early months of pregnancy. The procedure remains both common and controversial; more than a dozen challenges have been made to that 1973 ruling, and more are expected.

A physician and abortion provider believes more is at stake for women in that court decision than the ability to have a safe and legal abortion. Dr. Susan Wicklund, author of a new book, "This Common Secret: My Life as an Abortion Provider," says 35 years later, it's still a debate about women's rights.

"If a woman cannot control her reproductive life, she cannot control many things having to do with her economic security, her educational opportunities and her emotional health. The most basic thing is to be able to decide when, or if, you want to have a child."

Wicklund says 40 percent of women will have abortions during their lives. She believes political rhetoric often overshadows the real need for the procedure to be safe and legal for those who choose it. An ABC News poll taken Jan. 9-12, 2008, shows 57 percent of American voters believe abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances, while 40 percent disagree and 3 percent are undecided.

In writing about her 20 years at an abortion clinic, Wicklund describes receiving numerous death threats. She feels today's young women take their reproductive rights for granted.

"They have not known friends and sisters that have died from illegal abortions, and it will be a very terrible, rude awakening for that generation if we see those days return."

According to the most recent State Health Department figures, 24,627 abortions were performed in Washington in 2006. The number has been steadily decreasing, from a high of 30,613 in 1990.

Wicklund will be in Seattle on Feb. 11 for a book-signing event.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA