Belgium Authorizes Free Sale of Morning-After Pill

BRUSSELS, Belgium, JUNE 1, 2001 ( Belgium said it would make the “morning-after pill” available without prescription as of June 10.

Belgium will become the second country after Britain to make the potentially abortive drug available without prescription. Britain introduced over-the-counter sales of the drug in January, although the move now faces a legal challenge.

Belgian Health Minister Magda Alvoet said she had made the decision following a recommendation by the Medication Committee of the Public Health Ministry. “Seeing the growing number of terminations of pregnancies among women of less than 20 years was also taken into account in enacting this emergency solution,” Alvoet said.

Ironically, the morning-after pill, sold in Belgium under the name Norlevo, can be abortive, when it prevents the human embryo from implanting in the womb lining.

In January, Belgium effectively decriminalized the possession of marijuana for personal use and also moved toward legalizing euthanasia.