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Government must deliver on new era for women’s reproductive healthcare

Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The National Women’s Council (NWC) today (25th October 2022) called on the Government to deliver on a new era for women’s reproductive healthcare and adopt a holistic approach to women’s needs across her lifespan.  

Launching its new report Every Woman – Towards Reproductive Health, Care and Choice for all, the National Women’s Council highlighted the need to build on advances for women’s rights in recent years, including abortion legislation and the introduction of the free contraception scheme, and develop and invest in comprehensive, wrap-around services and supports that respond to the diverse needs of women.  

Speaking at the launch of Every Woman, Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said:  

“Every woman will need access to reproductive healthcare over the course of her lifespan. It begins with relationships and sexuality education in school, continues with access to contraception, and abortion, and pregnancy care if needed. It should extend through to menopause care and, for women who need it, reproductive cancer care.  

The ongoing Abortion Review, the extended roll out of the contraception scheme and the review of our relationship and sexuality education are unique opportunities for the Government to adopt a holistic approach where progress in one area is matched with progress in another. We must be able to respond to women’s diverse needs and ensure access to care for all who need it.”  

NWC’s Women’s Health Coordinator Alana Ryan said Government needs to deliver meaningful change through the ongoing Abortion Review, including action on continued gaps in abortion care nationwide and addressing legal restrictions and barriers.  

“While constitutional change has enabled access to care in Ireland for many women and this is to be celebrated, there is much unfinished business. For example, doctors are still facing a 14-year prison sentence for the provision of abortion care after 12 weeks and outside specific circumstances. This goes against the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and situates abortion outside the normal range of healthcare which women need. We are calling on the Government to follow evidence based legislative reform and fully decriminalise abortion as an outcome of the Abortion Review.”  

On relationship and sexuality education, Alana Ryan said:  

“We urgently need a modern curriculum which focuses on issues like gender stereotypes, intimate partner abuse, body diversity, and the harms of pornography. This would be an important intervention in preventing gender-based violence.  

 How this is done is as important as what’s on the page. Teachers have been asking for adequate training, and the curriculum must respond properly to the needs of children and teenagers 

Regarding access to contraception, Alana Ryan said:  

“It’s been hugely positive to see the free contraception scheme introduced by this Government. We are calling for the scheme to be rolled out to all women and people who need it, but we also urge the Government to focus on the accessibility of the scheme. Simple steps such as allowing pharmacists to dispense contraception where appropriate, or allowing women to access medical services over the phone would make a huge difference. This is particularly true for women in rural areas, those working in the gig economy who may not be able to take the time off work, and lone parents without childcare. It’s also crucial that there is access to coil or implant insertion and removal through GPs in each local community.”  

The full Every Woman Report is available here: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/15880_NWC_Every_Woman_Report_FINAL.pdf



For information: please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, 085 8619087 or sineadn@nwci.ie  


What: Launch of NWC’s Every Woman report on reproductive healthcare 

Where: Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square E, Dublin 2.  

When: 10 am – 11:30 am on 25 October 


About NWC  

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. 

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.  

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie