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Donnelly: Free contraception scheme for women aged 17-25 will begin in August 2022

The scheme will cost between €18m to €22m.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE DEPARTMENT OF Health has confirmed that free contraception for young women will be made available in August, 2022. 

Minister Stephen Donnelly said that it is envisaged the scheme, which is restricted to women between the age of 17-25 years, will cost between €18m to €22m.  

The plan had been announced in Budget 2022 and follows a report by the Working Group on Access to Contraception, published in October 2019.

This report had identified barriers that exist to accessing contraception for a significant amount of people in Ireland.

These include accessibility, education, workforce capacity and cost with cost for women aged 17-25 being a particular challenge. 

Minister Donnelly said: “The work I have asked my Department to undertake focusing on Women’s Health has identified many areas that we need to address swiftly. One of those is the cost barrier for many people accessing contraception.

“Contraception is not specifically a women’s health issue, nor do many women use contraception solely as a means of preventing unwanted pregnancy. 

“Contraception is used to treat a myriad of other women’s health issues, and a key element of the scheme I am introducing will cover the cost of up to two consultations per annum with a GP or other doctors, empowering young women to discuss forms of contraception suitable to their personal circumstances and medical conditions.” 

Donnelly said that there were “already enabled” free contraception initiatives including the National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS).

“The NCDS functions as a central point for distributing free condoms to HSE services and other organisations working with individuals and groups at increased risk of negative sexual health outcomes including migrants; young people; gay, bisexual and other MSM; sex workers; people living with addiction issues and people living with HIV. 

“I will shortly bring the Women’s Health Plan for 2022 to Government that will seek to further address a wide range of critical women’s health issues,“ he added.   

The scheme will provide for the cost of prescription contraception, the cost of fitting and the removal of various types of long-acting reversible contraception and administration of contraceptive injections plus any necessary checks, by medical professionals.

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There will also be money to train and certify additional medical professionals to fit and remove long-acting reversible contraception

While it will also cover the cost of a maximum of two consultations per year with GPs and other doctors to discuss forms of contraception suitable for individual patients and to enable prescription of same. 

Donnelly said it is envisaged that a wide range of contraceptive options, currently available to medical card holders, will be made available through this scheme.

The Minister said that the delay until August 2022 was due to the need to give time to bring forward the necessary legislative proposals.

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