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NWCI welcomes widening of access to free contraception

Published: Monday, March 26, 2018

NWCI welcomes widening of access to free contraception

It is anticipated that following tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting, the Government will move forward with plans to provide free access to contraception for all. The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) strongly supports these moves to ensure that contraception is affordable and accessible in Ireland. Currently, free access to contraception is limited to those with medical cards.

Access to affordable contraception is a key element of NWCI’s Every Woman – Affordable, accessible healthcare options for women and girls in Ireland. The Every Woman model sets out what reproductive healthcare services women and girls need and is based on extensive consultations with NWCI’s members and women and men across Ireland.

Reports indicate that the provision of contraception will be undertaken by Government in two phases, with access to barrier contraception such as condoms first, followed by free access to other contraception, such as the pill, which would require legislation. The plans to improve access to contraception reflect the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee on the Eight Amendment of the Constitution. 

Dr Cliona Loughnane, NWCI’s Women’s Health Coordinator said,

“The National Women’s Council of Ireland strongly supports plans to provide women with access to effective methods of contraception, free of charge. Access to this element of reproductive healthcare is fundamental to women’s family and life decisions and essential for women’s equality.

Studies have consistently shown that the cost of contraception, which often includes the cost of GP visits and medication costs, is a significant barrier to the use of contraception in Ireland, particularly for young people. We also know that over a third of Irish adults currently use no contraception and that many continue to use withdrawal in a bid to avoid pregnancy. Roll-out of a free contraception scheme provides the opportunity for us to greatly improve effective contraception use and to reduce the numbers of people experiencing crisis pregnancies.

In developing the free contraception scheme it is vital that access is provided to all of the most effective forms of contraception. People must be able to choose the contraception method which suits them best. While many women may avail of barrier or hormonal pill contraception, others may require access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as ‘the coil’”.

Dr Cliona Loughnane concluded,

“To support women and couples in Ireland, we must ensure the widest possible range of evidence-based and effective contraceptive methods are available and affordable to all. This means removing all unnecessary cost and information barriers.

The Government’s plan to widen availability of contraception reflects the growing awareness and acceptance of the need to provide reproductive healthcare services in a way which meets women’s needs throughout their lives. Women will need different support at different times, from relationship and sexual health education, to affordable and accessible contraception, to supports through pregnancy and menopause. We look forward to working with Government and the health service to ensure every woman in Ireland can access the full range of reproductive healthcare.”


For more information, please contact Sarah Maloney, NWCI Communications Assistant, Tel. 085 865 9721

More information about Every Woman is available on www.everywoman.nwci.ie