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Polish lawmakers greenlight morning-after pill for ages 15 and up

Polish lawmakers voted Thursday in favor of over-the-counter access to contraceptive "morning-after" pills for individuals aged 15 and up.

Poland’s lawmakers voted on Thursday to approve over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill for ages 15 and above in a step to liberalize Poland’s strict reproductive law inherited from the previous nationalist conservative government.

The vote in the lower house was the first step in the plans of the new pro-European Union government to loosen the anti-abortion and anti-contraception law, which is among Europe’s toughest.

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The lawmakers voted 224-196 in the Sejm with one abstention to liberalize access to the hormonal contraceptive, called ellaOne.

The morning-after pill, which prevents pregnancy, is currently available only by prescription. The previous conservative government, backed by President Andrzej Duda, tightened reproductive laws, drawing major street protests.

Abortion in Poland, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, is legal only when the pregnancy threatens a woman’s health or life, or results from rape. The strict law has had a chilling effect on Poland’s doctors, and has led to a number of deaths of women with troubled pregnancies.

The new contraception regulations still need approval from the Senate, which is expected to grant it, and from Duda.

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