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Emergency Contraception

All Americans should have access to emergency contraception when they need it, without judgment or delay.

Emergency contraception (EC), sometimes called “the morning-after pill,” is birth control that significantly reduces the chances of becoming pregnant if taken soon after sex. It may prevent a pregnancy before it occurs. It has no effect on an existing pregnancy.

Emergency contraception is safe and effective, and works best when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Most types of EC can work up to three days after sex, and some prescription products can be taken up to five days after sex.

Most forms of emergency contraception are available on pharmacy shelves, without a prescription, to anyone of any age. However, anti-choice groups have long run a coordinated misinformation campaign to confuse people about EC—with one false claim being that it causes abortion. Emergency contraception does not cause abortion, but many remain confused about the difference between EC and medication abortion.

It’s important for every woman to understand her options for emergency contraception before she needs it. That’s one of the reasons why doctors should talk with women about EC at their annual checkup.

All Americans should have access to emergency contraception when they need it, without judgment or delay.

Fact Sheets

What’s Next for Emergency Contraception?
The Difference Between Emergency Contraception and Medication Abortion
Support U.S. Servicewomen’s Access to Emergency Contraception
Emergency Contraception: An Important Contraceptive Option
More Reports & Fact Sheets

Current State Laws: Emergency Contraception

Despite attacks on access to EC, these states have laws that improve sexual-assault survivors’ access to EC in hospitals.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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