Women in Argentina will no longer need a prescription to access emergency contraception.
The government confirmed it was a step towards broadening the reproductive rights of women in a traditionally conservative country.
It has been welcomed by feminist groups but condemned by pro-lifers who believe it’s a ‘failure of pregnancy prevention’.
Valeria Isla from the health ministry said: ‘This removes an important barrier to access.
‘People can have this method of contraception as support before an emergency happens.’
Vanessa Gagliardi, leader of the feminist group Juntas y a la Izquierda, said the move would help ‘de-stigmatise’ the morning after pill.
‘For a long time it was thought to induce an abortion, which is not true,’ she said.
But pro-life group DerquiXlaVida hit back and said the measure was worrying because ‘the state is essentially orienting itself towards promoting abortive measures’.
‘It’s a way of recognising the failure of pregnancy prevention, sex education, and the responsibility and even persecution of authors and promoters of sexual abuse,’ the group said.
Argentina approved a law allowing abortions up to 14 weeks in December 2020 as part of a wave of liberalising laws.
This is a stark difference to the US where access to abortion has been tightened in certain states.
Emergency contraception, or the morning after pill, is a hormonal pill taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy by blocking the fertilisation of an egg.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is more effective within 12 hours of having sex.
The morning after pill is already available without a prescription in more than 70 countries.
Some other Latin American countries require prescriptions or have a minimum age to access emergency contraception.
According to WHO, emergency contraceptive pills and copper-bearing intrauterine devices can prevent about 95% of pregnancies when taken within five days of intercourse.
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