Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.44 1 Aug 2021


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Pharmacists want all women in Ireland to be able to access contraception free of charge and without prescription.

It comes after the UK recently allowed contraceptive pills - two specific progesterone-based oral contraceptives - to be sold over the counter for the first time.

Women in the UK will be able to access the pills after a short consultation with pharmacists.

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The Irish Pharmacy Union says women here should be allowed "similarly convenient access" to contraceptives.

The Programme for Government commits to providing free contraception on a 'phased basis', starting with women aged 17-25.

However, that has yet to happen.

Kathy Maher, community pharmacist and past-president of the Irish Pharmacy Union, told Newstalk Breakfast offering oral contraceptives without prescription is nothing new.

She said it has already happened in the likes of the US, Canada and New Zealand.

Contraception should be available free and without prescription to all women, pharmacists say

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She observed: “It gives women control over their reproductive health, and increases choice for women in the ways they access contraception. We aim to reduce unnecessary barriers.

“By making contraception more affordable and accessible, it will simply increase its use. What that will do - and studies have shown - is it will reduce the incidence of unintended crisis pregnancies.”

Ms Maher said contraception use is generally high in Ireland, but issues such as local access, cost, inconvenience, lack of knowledge and even a bit of embarrassment - especially among younger women - can be obstacles.

She noted: “While we’d like to see contraception made available free of charge to women, we’d also want to reduce any unnecessary barriers.”

She said pharmacists have the clinical expertise to advise women on which contraception is safe and appropriate for them, or to refer a woman to her GP if an alternative or long-acting contraception is needed.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Tim Ireland/PA Archive/PA Images

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