Texas and seven other states argued to a federal court Wednesday that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be granted an unfettered constitutional right to abortion in the U.S., backing the federal government’s refusal to help an young girl who sneaked into the country and is being held at a government-run shelter.
The American Civil Liberties Union was in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Wednesday demanding that the girl, who is a juvenile and wasn’t named, be permitted abortion access.
The ACLU said the government either needed to transport her to a clinic for the procedure, or else allow someone else to take her because she is approximately 15 weeks pregnant and under Texas law, the limit for an abortion is 20 weeks.
But Texas and the other states say they have local abortion laws that need to be respected, and urged the courts to butt out.
“An unlawfully-present alien with no substantial ties to this country has no constitutional right to abortion on demand,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
He said if the courts force the government to facilitate the abortion, it will be turning Texas into a “sanctuary state for abortions.”
South Carolina, Arkansas, Michigan, Louisiana, Ohio, Nebraska and Oklahoma joined Texas in the amicus brief siding with the federal government, arguing the court must reject the ACLU’s request because “no court has ever issued such a sweeping order — and with good reason.”
“If the Court grants the requested relief, there will be no meaningful limit on the constitutional rights an unlawfully-present alien can invoke simply by attempting to enter this country,” the states’ brief read.
But Judge Tanya S. Chutkan appeared to side with the ACLU during Wednesday’s hearing, and told the government’s attorney she was “astounded” by its position.
“Despite the fact that she’s in this country illegally, she still has constitutional rights,” Judge Chutkan said.
The judge’s decision on whether to grant the order will be made by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Jane Doe,” who is 17 years old, illegally entered the United States from Mexico without her parents and was placed into the custody of HHS at a shelter in Brownsville, Texas.
She petitioned a court in Texas to obtain an abortion pursuant to Texas’ abortion law, which requires parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion or a judicial waiver. The court granted Jane Doe the waiver, but the Office of Refugee Resettlement has prevented her from being taken to the abortion clinic.
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