Legal Battles

Ken Paxton Thinks Women Will Travel to Texas Just for the Abortions

Despite finding himself in the midst of an unprecedented run of good fortune, Ken Paxton, Texas' still-indicted attorney general, insists on making trouble for himself. If there's litigation to be filed or glommed onto related to conservatives' pet causes, the attorney general will be there, leading the charge against a federal government that's intentionally hesitant to defend the policies of previous, non-Trump presidents.

"The lower court’s ruling contradicts U.S. Supreme Court precedent and harms the public interest because it incentivizes even more unlawful immigration." — Ken Paxton

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Paxton is waging war against the Affordable Care Act, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and, as of Friday afternoon, the right of women detained by the U.S. government while crossing the border to get an abortion. The attorney general is leading an 11-state coalition in support of an appeal against a U.S. District Court in Washington that affirmed the rights of detained immigrants to seek abortion care.

Paxton believes Texas is at risk of becoming a "sanctuary state" for abortion.

“Unlawfully present aliens with no substantial ties to the U.S. do not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion,” Paxton said. “The lower court’s ruling contradicts U.S. Supreme Court precedent and harms the public interest because it incentivizes even more unlawful immigration. Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.”

That's right. According to Paxton, allowing women detained in the course of illegally immigrating to the United States to obtain abortions "incentivizes even more unlawful immigration." Women aren't coming to Texas because they're fleeing gang violence, domestic violence or crushing poverty; they're coming to Texas because they're hankering for a D&C.

The ongoing battle into which Paxton has insinuated himself stems from the 2017 case in which a teenager caught crossing the border into Texas sought an abortion while still in federal immigration custody. She obtained a judicial bypass of Texas' parental consent requirements, but the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement refused to take her to the two appointments required by Texas law for women seeking abortions.

Jane Doe, as the teenager is identified in court documents, eventually obtained a temporary restraining order from a Washington federal court and had an abortion in October. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the lower court ruling that allowed Doe to get an abortion, sending the case back down the federal judicial chain for further argument. The U.S. District Court in Washington subsequently issued a preliminary injunction allowing immigrant women in federal custody continued access to abortion.

"The district court has blocked the Trump administration’s cruel policy of obstructing unaccompanied immigrant minors’ access to abortion while the case continues, and we won’t stop until we strike it down once and for all,” Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, said after the injunction was issued June 4. "In the time since we succeeded in stopping the Trump administration from blocking Jane Doe’s abortion, at least three more young women have come forward who were being barred from getting abortions. To the Janes out there, we’ll keep fighting for you. To the government, we’ll continue to see you in court.”
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young