updated 6/22/2005 7:17:53 PM ET 2005-06-22T23:17:53

The New York Senate gave final legislative approval Wednesday to provide morning-after pills over the counter through pharmacists, midwives and nurses.

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The measure will allow girls and women to obtain the medication without a physician's visit or prescription and without parental consent regardless of the patient's age. The medication could be provided by any pharmacist, nurse or midwife that gets a blanket prescription from a physician for any customers.

The proposal, sponsored by a Republican, split the GOP-dominated chamber during a debate in which some equated the birth-interruption medication to abortion. The Democrat-led Assembly passed the measure in January. It now goes to Republican Gov. George Pataki to be signed or vetoed and could be subject to an override attempt.

Emergency contraceptives, also known as morning-after pills, are intended to prevent pregnancy by ensuring that an egg does not become fertilized. Emergency contraception can reduce the chance of pregnancy by 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. It is different from RU-486, often called the French abortion pill, which aborts an already attached embryo.

Current state law requires a physician's visit. State Sen. Nicholas Spano, a Westchester Republican, said the measure bypasses "the frequent difficulties encountered in obtaining medical appointments at offices with limited hours, long waits or inconvenient locations."

"Abortion is a murder," countered Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat. "We have experts and all indications are that this pill might cause abortion."

Seven other states have similar measures.

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