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Tuesday 3 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# Healthcare
Cabinet green lights free contraception plan for young women
Legislation enabling a free contraception scheme for women aged 17-25 is to be published in the coming days.

CABINET HAS APPROVED legislation for free contraception for women between the ages of 17 and 25, following through on a plan announced in last October’s Budget.

Women aged 17 to 25 will be able to avail of a free contraception scheme under an amendment to the Health (Exemptions from Charges for Acute In-Patient Services) Bill 2022.

Government ministers gave approval at today’s Cabinet meeting for the legislation to be published in the coming days and then brought through the Dáil.

The Department of Health has estimated that it can save young women who use contraception hundreds of euro per year.

In a statement, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the measure “aims to remove cost barriers to contraception for women aged 17 to 25″.

He said it will be “particularly significant for those who are just above the means-tested limits for medical and GP visit cards, or who may still be in full-time education and financially dependent on parents and guardians”.

In 2019, a government working group considered ways to improve access to contraception after the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment recommended the rollout of free contraception.

Its report outlined that local access, cost, embarrassment, inconvenience and lack of knowledge were barriers to accessing contraception and that young women and vulnerable groups should be prioritised for any free contraception. 

That led to the announcement in Budget 2022, which detailed that the contraceptive pill would be free for women in that age cohort except for the €1.50 prescription charge.

The cost of fitting and removing long-term contraception such as implants and two GP consultations per year regarding contraception will also be free of charge.


The Irish Pharmacy Union welcomed the move in the Budget but said that the pill should be made available without the need for a prescription.

Responding to today’s decision, Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly said that “given the history of the State with regard to women, women are now owed proper healthcare and I am delighted that we are taking the next step today”.

“A huge leap forward was made when we, as a nation, repealed the eighth amendment of the Constitution but if we are truly a progressive country it is time to deal with other aspects of reproductive care,” O’Reilly said.

The senator said that “for women in particular, the right forms of contraception can be very expensive, costing hundreds of euro”.

She said access to contraception can improve safety and prevent crisis pregnancies.

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