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The Roundtable: Is Roe Just Plain Bad Law?

The legal basis and language of the 1973 Supreme Court decision has long been debated by experts.

The leaked Supreme Court memo about the overturning of Roe v. Wade has sent shock waves throughout the United States. The decision, if confirmed, will eliminate the constitutional right to abortion, allowing for states to restrict or ban the practice altogether. The procedure continues to be one of the definitive dividing issues in U.S. politics. A panel of commentators joined Roundtable to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court opinion and the future of abortion access. In this segment, they discuss the landmark decision's legal foundations.

Stacey Lee notes that legal scholars have long questioned the solidity of the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade. Protecting federal abortion rights, she explains, would take more than a Supreme Court decision.

"If you want to protect a woman's right to an abortion at the federal level, we need to talk about a clearer constitutional amendment," she says. "Even if the leaked opinion becomes final, it's not anywhere close to the end of this issue. If anything, it makes me concerned that there may be other issues that Americans might have considered well-settled law that might not be anymore."

Bill Blum disputes Justice Alito's complete dismissal of the decision.

"In terms of the soundness of Alito's draft opinion, when he says it's Roe and Casey were egregiously wrong from the start, what that means in judge-speak is that no reasonable, competent lawyer could possibly have upheld Roe on the basis that Roe was decided, and I think that's nonsense," he says.

Nadia Asencio argues that the improvements in contraception since Roe v. Wade significantly impacts its relevance.

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"When that all happened, birth control methods were not as effective and accessible as they are today," she says. "Today, in 2022, we are in a completely different world."

Watch the full discussion below:

Roundtable Guests:

Bill Blum, Lawyer & Editor-in-Chief, Blum’s Law

Stacey Lee, professor, Kerry Business School, Johns Hopkins University

Nadia Asencio, Youtuber