No Prescription for Morning After Pill

WASHINGTON (AP) - A contentious three-year battle over the morning-after pill is at an end. Federal health officials say women who prove they're at least 18 can now buy the Plan-B pill without a prescription.

The Food and Drug Administration has told Barr Pharmaceuticals that girls 17 and younger still need a doctor's note to buy the pills.

The compromise is a partial victory for women's advocates and medical groups who have argued that easier access to the morning-after contraception could cut in half some three (m) million unplanned pregnancies every year in the U-S.

The pills are a concentrated dose of the same drug found in many regular birth-control pills, but can lower the risk of pregnancy by nearly 90 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

The maker of the Plan-B pill says it's disappointed with the age restriction, and that it will keep trying to get the F-D-A to eliminate it. But it says it's pleased with the approval of the over-the-counter sales for women 18 and up.