SEATTLE – Each year, America celebrates its birthday on the Fourth of July.
Marking the adoption of the Declaration of Independence that would free the United States from the British, the holiday is celebrated by Americans today with parades, fireworks, and other patriotic festivities.
But this year, the Fourth of July has taken on a different meaning after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The high court’s ruling, which ended national protection for abortion rights, resulted in the implementation of numerous trigger laws that have made the procedure illegal or restricted in numerous states.
Several more states are expected to enact similar restrictions in the coming weeks.
As we watch the aftermath of the decision and the nationwide conversation around America’s rights, celebrating a holiday of independence and freedom has suddenly become much more complicated.
Can we continue to idolize this nation as the “land of the free” when the bodily autonomy of its citizens has been left up to the government? Can we feel pride in America on its progress after our nation’s reproductive rights have taken such a large step backwards?
But while the ruling was undoubtedly devastating, it wasn’t surprising.
The American battle over rights and constitutionality is one we’ve come to know all too well – whether it be about guns, religion or a woman’s uterus. As citizens, we’ve grown numb to the never-ending argument.
As we mark 246 years of American independence, it has become painfully clear that in many ways, not much has changed. We still hold many of the same hypocritical and discriminatory values from our founding of our nation.
But for me and the rest of America’s youth, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is particularly terrifying.
Once again, our generation will have to live with the reality of a decision we had little say in. America’s children will be the ones who will live in the pre-Roe era of their parents – or worse. Yet today, we’re expected to wave the American flag with pride.
So this year as our nation celebrates its independence, we must reflect and ask ourselves: is the independence of the citizens of this country simply an ideology?
Where do our rights begin, and where does the government’s power end?
And what does the overturning of Roe v. Wade say about America?
Jasmine Zhen is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.