The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday to keep a near-total ban on abortions in the state until a lower court can decide whether or not the law is constitutional.
Kentucky currently only allows abortions to save the life of the pregnant person, under a trigger law that kicked into effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned. A separate ban prohibits abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant.
Judge Mitch Perry had halted both laws in July, arguing they violated the state constitution’s right to privacy and self-determination. Just weeks later, Appeals Court Judge Larry Thompson overturned the injunction. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s two abortion providers, filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate Perry’s injunction.
The high court heard arguments for the case a week after the midterm elections, when Kentucky residents voted against amending the constitution to explicitly say that it does not protect the right to abortion.
Justice Debra Hembree Lambert wrote in Thursday’s majority opinion that Perry’s court had “abused its discretion by granting the abortion providers’ motion for a temporary injunction.”
The ruling comes the day after a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would let the state prosecute a person who gets an illegal abortion for criminal homicide. The proposed legislation was so controversial that it even drew pushback from Kentucky’s anti-abortion Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who said it “strikes the wrong balance” and called on the state legislature to reject it.
Cameron, a Republican who is running for governor, warned the bill would wrongly target women who terminate pregnancies. However, he also defended the other two abortion bans at question in the case before the Supreme Court.