updated 6/28/2006 10:30:40 AM ET 2006-06-28T14:30:40

Planned Parenthood said it will distribute free “morning after” contraceptives at state clinics Friday to protest Gov. Bill Owens’ veto of a bill that would have let pharmacists prescribe the pill.

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Owens rejected the measure in April, saying that spreading prescription power beyond doctors and specialized nurses “strays radically from the accepted norms of medicine.”

“Every woman should have it in their medicine cabinets, in case of birth control failure, or worse, sexual assault,” Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, said in a statement.

The contraceptive, called Plan B, uses a high dose of the hormones found in birth control pills. It is designed to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, and not have any effect once the egg is embedded in the uterus wall. It is not the abortion drug RU-486.

The governor has stressed that Plan B is already available through doctors and Planned Parenthood, said Dan Hopkins, a spokesman for Owens. But supporters of the measure have said that it would have made the drug available 24 hours a day at many pharmacies.

Opponents say the drug might prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted in a woman’s uterus, which they believe would be the equivalent of having an abortion.

Eight states — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington — have laws permitting women to obtain Plan B over-the-counter.

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