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Written by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31   
Wednesday, 03 July 2024 16:21

4th-flag-usSenator Smith encourages readers to take time during the 4th of July festivities to reflect on the privilege we have of living in such a great nation, and the responsibility that comes with it to continue the work of ensuring all American’s are truly free.


EAU CLAIRE - The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate the country we call home. We celebrate with fireworks, burgers, ice cream or show our red, white, and blue colors. Regardless of our specific traditions, we all find unique ways to show our patriotism.

During this time, I can’t help but reflect on the gratitude I have for being an American. We have the freedom to choose our religion, speak freely, to have a free press, the right to assemble and the right to petition our government. These freedoms should not be taken for granted and Independence Day reminds us not only of what it took to create our nation, but the effort it takes for us to keep it in tact. This is especially important to recognize when millions of people dream of entering this country with a glimpse of hope to receive such freedoms.

1776As fireworks gleam throughout the sky, I think it’s important that we acknowledge how lucky we are as Americans to live in this country. Since the birth of our nation, America has been a beacon of hope. A prominent historical example includes the millions of individuals, all of differing nationalities, who passed through Ellis Island in New York at the chance of starting a new life. Many of those migrants were our ancestors. They longed for a life free of famine, religious persecution, political oppression and economic uncertainty. Although Ellis Island closed 70 years ago, the diversity of our nation enriches our society with unique perspectives and diverse talents that continue to strengthen the fabric of our country today.

The Fourth of July is not only a time to commemorate the past but to also reflect on the present. Independence is an integral part of celebrating this day and is a key aspect of what makes America such a desirable place to live and work. When I think of independence, I also think about how each human deserves the proper legal protection to decide what they do with their bodies, including the right to choose when to start or expand their family. Your government should have no say in making such an important decision in your life, but today it does.

The Roe v. Wade court case was decided in 1973 and was made just two years after the 26th Amendment passed, granting 18 year olds the right to vote. While our country made strides for increasing voting rights and reproductive freedom during this time, we find ourselves struggling with similar issues today. For almost half a century, women had the independence to choose what to do with their bodies. Unfortunately, this was taken away in the summer of 2022.

jeff-smithIt has been two years since the Dobbs decision stripped away the fundamental right to choose when and how child bearing citizens start a family. Today, debates on abortion extend much further than whether or not to end a pregnancy. Abortion laws also curtail personal choice, bodily sovereignty and medical freedoms. Within the last two years, a hodgepodge of states have further revoked the right for women to make decisions for their own bodies.

We all understand the importance of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to petition the government. We must also understand that bodily freedom is just as important. The freedom to choose when to start or expand a family is an American value that is no longer guaranteed. For your Fourth of July celebrations, I hope you will reflect on our independence and the ways we can expand freedom for all, even in our great nation.


Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2024 17:06
 
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