FDA files appeal over 'morning-after' pill decision

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Food and Drug Administration has appealed a court order directing the agency to make "morning-after" emergency contraception pills available without a prescription to all girls of reproductive age.

Lawyers with the Justice Department filed the appeal on Wednesday with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, according to court documents.

The appeal is the latest foray in the years-long legal battle over the pill known as "Plan B," a drug that has also sparked political and religious clashes.

If taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, it is designed to prevent pregnancy. One version of the pill is made by a unit of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

The government is seeking to overturn US District Judge Edward Korman's ruling from April 5 that required the FDA to make the emergency contraception available over-the-counter to women of all ages within 30 days.

The Justice Department has asked the district court to temporarily stop its order from taking effect while the appeal is pending, said FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson.