WASHINGTON - The Pentagon for the first time will require military bases worldwide to offer emergency contraception or the so-called morning-after pill, a military spokesman told Fox News Friday.
The decision follows a recommendation by an independent panel of doctors and pharmacists in November, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. The panel determined that emergency contraception should be added to the military's list of medications that must be stocked at each military facility.
The decision represents a policy shift from the Bush administration when such a change was resisted, Nancy Keenan, president of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement praising the decision.
Over much resistance from abortion opponents, the Food and Drug Administration approved the over-the-counter sale of the morning-after pill to adults in 2006.
The drug, which contains a high dose of birth control pills, can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex by blocking ovulation or fertilization. Critics of the contraceptive say it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
It is not known when the policy would be implemented.
Military hospitals are legally forbidden to perform abortions. When asked if the new policy violated that law, Whitman had no immediate response and said he'd have to defer to the policy experts.
Fox News' Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.