Austria's health ministry says the contraceptive morning-after pill is now available in pharmacies without a prescription.

The ministry said Friday that women of all ages can now buy the pill — which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall so it can grow into an embryo — over the counter. Previously, they had to see a doctor first.

Health Minister Alois Stoeger has referred to the morning-after pill as an instrument to keep women out of difficult situations.