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Federal Government

Emergency Contraception


In 2006, after three years of political posturing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally approved over-the-counter access to the emergency contraceptive Plan B® for individuals age 18 and older.  Emergency contraception, also known as the "morning-after" pill, can substantially reduce a woman's chance of becoming pregnant after unprotected sex.  In 2009, the FDA approved Plan B®, and its generic equivalent Next Choice®, for over-the-counter use for individuals age 17 and over.  In 2010, the FDA approved the emergency contraceptive ella®, which is safe and effective for use up to five days (120 hours) after sex.  ella® is available only by prescription.

Press Release, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Approves Over-the-Counter Access for Plan B for Women 18 and Older; Prescription Remains Required for Those 17 and Under (Aug. 24, 2006).  Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Emergency Contraception at (last visited October 13, 2010).  Press Release, Food and Drug Administration, FDA approves ella™ tablets for prescription emergency contraception (Aug. 13, 2010) at (last visited Oct. 25, 2010).

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