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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.

In 2007, Minnesota passed allow requiring emergency rooms to provide information and access to EC for victims of rape and sexual assault. There are no faith-based exemptions for Minnesotan hospitals that allow them to deny women EC in these circumstances.

One type of emergency contraception, Plan B One-Step, is available over the counter to women of all ages. All Americans should have access to emergency contraception when they need it, without judgment or delay.

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