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