Independence Day - A Moment for Reflection

Dear all – July 4th evokes images of ice cream, barbeques, sunscreen, and hot weather — the holiday signals that summer in full force and that we are more than halfway through the year. Independence Day is a holiday that can spur conscientious citizenship as well as inner reflection. This year alone, our nation has endured many challenges and trials, from the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected millions of Americans to the shifting landscape in reproductive rights as well as the heartbreaking events of school shootings, anti-trans and homophobic legislation, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

I am grateful that we live in a nation where we can have independent thought and action.

This year, I am struck that I – and most/many of us - have spent a lot of time exploring the concept of independence.  I am terribly distressed about the recent SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade that limits our personal bodily autonomy and reproductive choices.  I am concerned about possible additional attacks on our personal freedom – what birth control we can use, who we can marry, transgender rights, and more. 

As you celebrate this weekend, please take a moment to reflect on the questions, “What does it mean to be American? What does it mean to be a person of this nation?” and let that propel you towards action in your personal and professional lives, whether in our classrooms, clinics or at the voting booth. I always go back to my primary value of the golden rule – treating others as you want to be treated.  Kindness, generosity, consideration, respect, and autonomy are paramount.

While the path forward will require us to fight for reproductive justice in ways that we did not imagine we would have to again, we will always stand up for a person’s right to self-determination and ability to make informed health choices with comprehensive and safe options. 

I am grateful that we live in a nation where we can have independent thought and action. I am grateful we have the privilege of improving and empowering the lives of our patients.  I am grateful for all of you.

With best wishes 
- Leslee

Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor and Professor, by courtesy, of Urology


Dr. Subak is a board-certified gynecologist in the Gynecology Clinic at Stanford Health Care. She is fellowship trained in urogynecology and pelvic surgery. Dr. Subak is chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She is also a Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and, by courtesy, of urology. Her clinical interests include female pelvic medicine, general gynecology, and LGBTQ+ health. Dr. Subak is the founding director of the LGBTQ+ Health Program at Stanford Health Care. She is committed to providing compassionate and affirming care to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Dr. Subak is an award-winning researcher who has conducted extensive studies on female reproductive health and urologic function. Her primary research focus is identifying interventions to reduce urinary incontinence in females. Her research group pioneered studies of weight loss as a treatment for incontinence. The research group also investigates novel interventions for female incontinence, such as slow-paced breathing, yoga, and mobile health apps. Dr. Subak has published more than 100 articles in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Most of these articles focus on urinary incontinence, the association between weight and urinary incontinence, and new treatments for urinary incontinence. Her research has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, JAMA Internal Medicine, The Journal of Urology, and The New England Journal of Medicine. She also wrote book chapters on several topics, including the economics of urinary incontinence. She is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Association of Professors of Gynecology & Obstetrics (APGO), the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology (CUCOG), and the International Continence Society (ICS). Dr. Subak has served on many committees focused on incontinence at AUGS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the International Consultation on Incontinence (ICI), which is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ICS.