South Korea's Constitutional Court has upheld a 59-year-old ban on abortions.

The eight-judge panel needed six votes in favor of declaring the law unconstitutional in order to overturn the longtime ban.

However, the court said Thursday that four judges voted to keep the ban and four voted to overturn it, meaning abortion will remain illegal in South Korea.

The court said in a statement that the four judges who voted to overturn the ban supported allowing first trimester abortions.

South Korea banned abortion in 1953 with exceptions for rape, incest or severe genetic disorders.

Activists say authorities turned a blind eye to abortions for decades until cracking down in recent years due to South Korea's low birthrate.