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FDA approves 5-day emergency contraceptive

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. regulators Friday approved an emergency contraceptive that can be effective for 120 hours over the objections of those calling it an abortion drug.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the prescription sale of ulipristal acetate, to be marketed under the name "ella," The Washington Post reported. Women who think they might need ella could obtain it and keep a supply in the medicine cabinet, the report said.

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Ella is currently being sold in 22 countries, mostly in Europe.

Tests have shown the drug, which acts by blocking the effect of progesterone, reduces the risk of pregnancy by two-thirds for as long as five days. RU-486, also known as Plan B, must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex and should be taken as soon as possible because it loses its effectiveness with the passage of time.

Ella reduces the chance the ovaries will produce an egg. Anti-abortion activists said that like Plan B it can block a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, therefore making it an abortion drug.

"Ella is an abortion drug," Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said. "It operates the same way as RU-486 -- the abortion drug. Many women may be comfortable taking a contraceptive but would object to taking an abortion drug."

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