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Government considering the roll-out of free contraception

Minister Harris said work to consider the costs and other implications is continuing within his department.

Health Minister Simon Harris said work is underway to determine how free contraception would work and how much it would cost.
Health Minister Simon Harris said work is underway to determine how free contraception would work and how much it would cost.
Image: UIG via Getty Images

PROPOSALS ARE BEING drawn up to consider the “nature and scope” of rolling out free contraception.

Addressing the Dáil during a debate on the referendum bill today, Health Minister Simon Harris said work is under way to consider how a free contraception service might work and what the introduction of such a scheme would involve.

“This work has so far established that provision of free access to contraception methods, which are currently limited to those with eligibility through the Primary Care Reimbursement Services, would require enabling primary legislation,” said Harris.

He said work to consider the costs and other implications is continuing within his department.

The minister has established a group, under the chairmanship of the chief medical officer, to address the recommendations and formulate “an effective and comprehensive response” to the issues raised by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

“If our underlying principle is that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, then we must do all we can to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and to support women in every way.  This will be the focus of the proposals I will bring back to government in around a months time,” said Harris.

While he said the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment were focused on the discussion and recommendations on the issue of abortion, it also raised issues  such as free access to contraception, comprehensive sex education, obstetric care and counselling.  

The minister said that he will return to those issues in the coming weeks and will be seeking approval for a series of measures to further support women and improve access to counselling, contraception and perinatal care.

Read: 21 things that will be included in the abortion legislation if a referendum passes>

Read: Review of Jobstown protest finds gardaí should have anticipated ‘serious outburst of public disorder’>

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