The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday declined to block the state’s near-total abortion ban while it reviews legal challenges to the law.
A state court of appeals allowed two abortion bans to go into effect in an Aug. 1 ruling and the state Supreme Court kept that ruling in place, finding that the “circumstances presented” by the challengers “do not rise to the level of extraordinary cause.”
The courts have yet to rule on the merits of the challenge to the abortion bans, and abortion rights groups said they will continue to fight.
“Make no mistake: abortion bans result in tragic health outcomes and are a form of control over our bodies. Despite this setback, the fight continues,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Kentucky said in a statement.
“We will proceed with our case to restore and protect reproductive freedom in Kentucky. Politicians and the government should never have the authority to force a person to remain pregnant against their will,” the groups said.
The appeals court’s Aug. 1 decision lifted a temporary injunction against two 2019 bans. The near-complete ban on abortions was passed in the form of a “trigger” law, and took effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The six-week “heartbeat bill” had previously been blocked by a federal court.
The laws together effectively outlaw abortion in Kentucky except in limited instances when the procedure is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant person. Neither law contains an exception for victims of the crimes of rape or incest to obtain an abortion if they become pregnant.
In the ruling, the state’s highest court set oral arguments for Nov. 15, which is after the upcoming general election when voters will decide whether the state constitution should be amended to make clear there are no protections for abortion rights.