Rome: Italy`s health and drugs authorities have approved the use of the abortion drug RU486, drawing immediate protests by the Vatican.
The Italian Drug Agency ruled after a meeting that ended late Thursday that the drug cannot be sold in drug stores but can only be administered by doctors in a hospital. The agency said the pill can only be taken up to the seventh week of pregnancy.
The RU486 was first introduced in France almost two decades ago and is available in several other European countries. But approval in Italy has been held up by the Catholic Church, which opposes abortion and contraception.
However, Italy allows surgical abortions in hospitals and the use of the morning-after pill.