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The Roundtable: Is Consensus Possible on Abortion Rights?

The discrepancies between local and federal legislation all but guarantee an ongoing constitutional dispute.

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 US 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 state of public discourse on abortion.

Access to abortion, Stacey Lee notes, isn't simply a question of legal semantics. For many, it brings up deep issues around religion, ethics, values and the role of the state, which makes the discussion that much more complex.

"Given the U-Haul of baggage that people bring with them to this issue, there's just too much noise for there to be a clear level headed conversation about the issue," she says. "If we talk about liberty, it is an individual, private decision. But now states are removing that choice entirely. That concerns me."

Nadia Asencio points out that national consensus on abortion may be impossible to achieve, but it is more feasible at the state level.

"I live in New York City. A lot of things happen here that I don't agree with, but this is where I chose to live. But I understand that the way that Texas does things isn't the way that New York City does it," she says.

Bill Blum cautions, though, that leaving all decisions up to the state level could bring up serious issues of constitutionality.

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"If you have fetal personhood laws and you have no exception for the health or wellbeing or the life of the mother, then you're gonna consider all abortion to be homicide. And then you're gonna really get into the weeds. Legally, you have a justifiable homicide," he says. "Iff the life of the mother is at stake, this is a complicated question of law and politics, of popular will and states' rights versus constitutional values."

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