Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM) Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday defending the federal government’s refusal to allow abortions for immigrants.

“The Constitution does not confer the right to an elective abortion on unlawfully-present aliens with virtually no ties to the country,” Paxton said in a brief representing an 11-state coalition. “Under long-settled doctrine, the constitutional rights an alien may invoke depend on the scope of the alien’s ties to this country.”

The attorney general wrote in opposition to a district court ruling in Garza v. Azar in March supporting the abortion rights. Paxton acknowledged in the brief that “all persons—regardless of immigration status, and regardless of their ties here—have certain cabined constitutional rights, including baseline procedural protections and the right to be free from gross physical abuse.”

But, Paxton added, “That does not mean that such unlawfully present aliens are accorded the panoply of affirmative liberty rights that citizens and lawfully-present aliens possess. The district court below disregarded all of that. It held, in a single footnote, that ‘Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment right to decide whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies is not diminished by their status’ as unlawfully-present aliens with no substantial ties to this country.”

Paxton said the holding in Garza “contradicts long-settled and binding Supreme Court precedent providing that an alien’s degree of connections to this country determines the degree of Fifth Amendment rights accorded to her.”

“The district court’s preliminary injunction thus rests on an incorrect understanding of the law. This Court should reverse the decision below and vacate the preliminary injunction,” Paxton said in the brief.

In a news release Friday, Paxton reiterated that position.

“Unlawfully-present aliens with no substantial ties to the U.S. do not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion,” he 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.”

Last year, Paxton led multiple friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the federal government’s right to refuse to facilitate abortions for an unlawfully present, unaccompanied minor alien in Texas. She was detained in a shelter after unlawfully entering the U.S. and ultimately had an abortion.

Attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia, along with the governor of Kentucky, joined Texas on Paxton’s amicus brief.