The U.S. government has approved an over-the-counter version of the emergency contraceptive known as the "morning after" pill.
Women aged 18 and over in America will soon be able to buy the pill in pharmacies without a doctor's prescription provided they show proof of age. Girls under 18 will still need a doctor's approval before buying the pill.
The drug, manufactured by Barr Pharmaceuticals, is used to lower the risk of pregnancy when taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse.
A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said Thursday that President Bush agreed that minors should have a prescription, citing a "critical distinction" between adults and minors.
Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray called the approval a "victory for women's health." They said it would also restore faith in the U.S. government agency responsible for approving new drugs.
The decision brings an end to years of controversy. Women's rights groups had backed an over-the-counter version of the pill, saying it would help lower the number of unwanted pregnancies. Opponents argued it would lead to more promiscuity and unprotected sex.
In announcing the decision, Barr said it hopes to have the non-prescription pill available by the end of the year. The pharmaceutical company says it will continue to push for making it available over-the-counter to girls under 18.