The Intercept contains an article that is worth your time about the leaked Alito decision that overturns Roe v. Wade.

Jordan Smith writes:

AS A MATTER of fact, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is wrong.

In a leaked draft of the court’s majority opinion in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Alito writes that Roe v. Wade and its successor Planned Parenthood v. Casey must be overturned — an extraordinary move that would topple precedent in order to constrict, rather than expand, constitutional rights.

The missive is aggressive and self-righteous and reads like the greatest hits of those who disfavor the right to bodily autonomy. There’s the linking of abortion to eugenics, for example. “Some such supporters have been motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population,” Alito writes. “It is beyond dispute that Roe has had that demographic effect.” The ahistorical comparison misses the fact that an individual choosing to abort their own pregnancy is not analogous to forced sterilization by the state to alter the American gene pool.

And there’s the claim that because the word “abortion” isn’t found in the Constitution, the right to it doesn’t exist. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito writes. This completely ignores the historical significance of the 14th Amendment, a Reconstruction-era addition meant to ensure individual liberty, including the right to decide whether and with whom to form a family. “Most Americans understand the plain truth reflected in these protections,” Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, said in a statement. “A person cannot truly be free, and is not truly an equal member of society, if they do not get to decide for themselves this most basic question of bodily autonomy.” Alito’s opinion, she said, “frighteningly bulldozes past the Constitution.”

Alito also dismisses the notion that there are any clearly identifiable reliance issues at stake in discarding abortion rights. In this context, the concept of reliance posits that when expectations have been built around the stability of a particular law or judicial pronouncement, those interests should be protected and the precedent underpinning them upheld. In addressing the issue, Alito comes off as if perplexed: The court knows how to evaluate “concrete” reliance issues like those implicated in “property and contract rights,” Alito writes, but assessing an “intangible” reliance is a whole other story. “That form of reliance depends on an empirical question that is hard for anyone — and in particular, for a court — to assess, namely, the effect of the abortion right on society and in particular on the lives of women.”

Yet again, Alito is wrong — and there’s plenty of research to prove it.

A Mountain of Evidence

In an amicus brief filed in the Dobbs case, 154 economists and researchers took direct aim at the how-could-we-possibly-know-what-abortion-has-done-for-society nonsense. The brief details a substantial body of research demonstrating that access to legal abortion has had significant social and economic impacts, increasing education and job opportunities for women and reducing childhood poverty.

The expansion of abortion access after Roe reduced the overall birthrate by up to 11 percent. For teens, the drop was 34 percent; teen marriage was reduced 20 percent. Research has revealed that young women who used abortion to delay parenthood by just a year saw an 11 percent increase in hourly wages later in their careers. Access to abortion for young women increased the likelihood of finishing college by nearly 20 percentage points; the probability that they would go on to a professional career jumped by nearly 40 percentage points. All these effects, the economists noted, were even greater among Black women.

“Abortion legalization has shaped families and the circumstances into which children are born,” the economists wrote. Abortion legalization reduced the number of children living in poverty as well as the number of cases of child neglect and abuse. “Yet other studies have explored long-run downstream effects as the children of the Roe era grew into adulthood,” reads the brief. “One such study showed that as these children became adults, they had higher rates of college graduation, lower rates of single parenthood, and lower rates of welfare receipt.”

In other words, the effect of the abortion right on society is not remotely “intangible.” There is decades’ worth of evidence showing that abortion access has positively impacted women and their families. “But those changes are neither sufficient nor permanent: abortion access is still relevant and necessary to women’s equal and full participation in society,” the economists wrote, challenging Mississippi’s argument in the Dobbs case that contraception and employment policies like parental leave have essentially made abortion unnecessary. Indeed, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended and nearly half of those pregnancies end in abortion. “These statistics alone lead to the inevitable (and obvious) conclusion that contraception and existing policies are not perfect substitutes for abortion access.”

Jordan goes on to write about her own experience. As a sophomore in college, she got pregnant. Her mother immediately sent the money for an abortion. This was the right decision for her, allowing her to finish college, go to graduate school, and pursue a career.