AUSTIN – In an effort to prevent Texas from becoming a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants seeking abortions, Attorney General Ken Paxton headed an eight-state coalition to head off abortion on demand for aliens who are in the United States illegally without success.

After the Oct. 17 filing of the amicus brief, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia paved the way for the federal government to secure a sponsor to take custody of the 17-year-old from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) custody so she could be taken for an abortion Oct. 25.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

That decision left Paxton disappointed.

“Today’s loss of innocent human life is tragic,” Paxton said in a press release issued Oct. 25. “And it may have been avoidable. The ruling that paved the way for the abortion violated long-standing Supreme Court precedent on the rights of an unlawfully present person. Even the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice acknowledged that unlawfully present aliens without substantial connections to the country lack the same constitutional rights as citizens. This ruling not only cost a life, it could pave the way for anyone outside the United States to unlawfully enter and obtain an abortion. Life and the Constitution are sacred. We lost some of both today.”

Paxton had filed the amicus brief on Oct. 17 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as a show of support for the federal government’s refusal to allow a pregnant girl who entered the country illegally from Mexico to obtain an abortion in Texas.

Joining Texas on the amicus brief were the attorneys general of Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

The girl, who was 17 at the time of the filing, was in the legal custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at a shelter in Brownsville. She initially filed a lawsuit in Texas state court, seeking an order that would force HHS to pave the way for her to get an abortion, according to Paxton's office.

Known as Doe, the girl’s guardian ad litem asked the court to rule whether the U.S. Constitution confers on unlawfully-present aliens the absolute right to an abortion on demand even though they have no ties to the state or country aside from being arrested while trying to cross the border illegally.

In the filing, Paxton noted that if the court granted Doe’s request, it would mean that unlimited constitutional rights would be conferred upon illegal aliens.

Such relief, Paxton added “would also contradict longstanding Supreme Court precedent that full Fifth Amendment rights vest only in those aliens who have come within the territory of the United States and developed substantial connections with this country.”

In Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court ruled that while illegal aliens are “persons” protected by the Fifth Amendment, the breadth of the amendment’s protection doesn’t cover everyone entering the country.

The Supreme Court clarified in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez that those protections are conferred only when the illegal aliens develop a tie to the United States.

“To hold that Doe has a constitutional right to an abortion in this case would undermine these and others cases holding that individuals in Doe’s circumstances possess only narrow constitutional protections,” Paxton said in the amicus brief. “The court should decline to take that dramatic step.”

Paxton also noted that the motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, if approved, cuts against public interests and add to the burden states already bear as a result of illegal immigration.

“If the court grants this TRO and preliminary injunction, it will effectively announce that anyone on Earth has any number of constitutional rights simply by being apprehended while trying to cross the United States border,” Paxton concluded in the filing. “That dramatic expansion of rights available to unlawfully present aliens with no substantial connection to this country will incentivize even more unlawful entries and further consume public resources at the state and local level.”

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