Kentucky's Supreme Court on Thursday refused to allow abortions to resume in the state, rejecting a request to halt enforcement of a near-total restriction on abortion that has largely been in place since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
The court, which was weighing challenges to the state's near-total restriction and a separate one that outlaws abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, sent the case back to a lower court for further consideration of constitutional issues related to one of the retrictions.
The court weighed in on the issue after Kentucky voters last year rejected a ballot measure that would have denied any constitutional protections for abortion. The Republican-led legislature passed both of those laws.
In July, a Louisville judge, Mitch Perry, halted enforcement of the new restrictions because he found they likely violated the state Constitution's rights to privacy and self-determination. He said it was not the court's role to determine whether the state constitution guarantees the right to abortion, but it is its role to decide whether the new bans violate constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
But the state Court of Appeals reinstated enforcement of the restrictions and the state Supreme Court opted in August to keep them in place while it reviewed the case.
Kentucky's near-total trigger law ban was passed in 2019 and took effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It restricts abortions except when they are carried out to save the life of the mother or to prevent disabling injury. It does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Two Louisville abortion clinics challenged the restrictions.
Thirteen states have current restrictions on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, including Wisconsin, where there is a legal question over which law is in effect but where clinics have shut down. Tight restrictions are currently on hold because of court action in at least six states.
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