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The Food and Drug Administration on Friday altered the language attached to emergency contraceptive pills to clarify that they are not abortion drugs.

The agency’s update eliminates previous language that had suggested that the over-the-counter products, commonly described as morning-after pills or Plan B, could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The new language clarifies that the pills work by stopping or delaying an egg’s release from the ovary.


Foundation Consumer Healthcare, the maker of the brand-name morning-after pill Plan B One-Step, requested the update, which the FDA said is backed by science. The change also comes amidst upheaval for abortion and family planning laws throughout the nation, with a significant portion of anti-abortion advocates arguing that life begins at conception. Some states allow pharmacists to refuse to stock emergency contraceptive pills, which are available without a prescription. Nine states have also used the Plan B label’s previous wording on implantation to justify excluding emergency contraception from state family planning programs.

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