Health Minister says free contraception service is being considered

The prospect of free contraception has been described as a potential 'game-changer'

Health Minister says free contraception service is being considered

Health Minister Simon Harris. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The Health Minister has said work is under way to examine the possibility of a free contraception service.

Free access to the 'most effective method of contraception' was one of the ancillary recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment last year.

The committee's report recommended "the introduction of a scheme for the provision of the most effective method of contraception, free of charge and having regard to personal circumstances, to all people who wish to avail of them within the State".

During his speech in the Dáil introducing the legislation to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, Simon Harris said that possibility was being investigated.

As well as expressing his support for new abortion laws, he highlighted some of the other measures currently being considered by the Government.

Minister Harris said: "Work is under way to consider the nature and scope of a free contraception service and what the introduction of such a service would involve.

"That has thus far established that provision of free access to contraception methods - which is currently limited to those with eligibility through the primary care reimbursement services - would require enabling primary legislation."

He added: "We must do all we can to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and support women in every way."

Members of the Labour party expressed support for the proposal.

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton observed: "If we get better maternal provision - as proposed and in respect of which I welcome the observations made by the Minister on providing free contraception services - we should end up with services of better quality that will help people to make decisions and result in better outcomes for families."

The party's Dublin South West Councillor Martina Genockey said free contraception would be a 'game-changer'.

She argued: "For many women, and especially younger women, the costs of accessing contraception can be very expensive both for seeing their GP and then having a prescription filled.

"A free service would be of huge benefit and I welcome the statement today by the Minister for Health that he is examining that."