Minister Joe O’Brien welcomes free contraception for women 17-25, a first step towards making universal free contraception a cornerstone of women’s healthcare in Ireland

14th September, 2022

Minister Joe O’Brien has welcomed the announcement of free contraception for women aged 17 to 25 which could see savings of up to €470 on the cost of prescription contraception including contraceptive implant, injection, IUCD or IUS.

The Green Party has long campaigned for free access to contraception and secured a commitment in the Programme for Government to provide free contraception on a phased basis. The scheme will cover the cost of prescription contraception, including the cost of consultations with medical professionals and the costs associated with fitting/removing various types of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs).

Based on census data from 2016, it is estimated that around 250,000 women in the 17-25 age cohort will be able to avail of free contraception under this scheme.

Minister O’Brien said:

This is something that the Green Party has been very vocal about with my colleague Senator Pauline O’Reilly bringing a Motion before the Seanad on the subject in 2020.  We made historic progress in women’s healthcare with the repeal of the eighth amendment, however, for women in particular, the right forms of contraception can be very expensive, costing hundreds of euro and many will choose the most affordable option available, even though a longer-term option might be more appropriate or suitable.

Cost should not be a concern when women are making choices about contraception.  This scheme will now ensure that every young woman in Ireland has greater access to the right form of contraception for her individual needs, allowing her to keep safe and preventing crisis pregnancies. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that this is rolled out to women of all ages in the near future.

Green Party Deputy Leader, Minister Catherine Martin said:

For years, the Green Party has advocated that cost should not be a barrier for women to access the contraception that works best for them.  In the coming weeks women will be empowered to access a range of contraceptive methods without having concerns about upfront costs or affordability. This will allow women to make informed decisions with their doctor about their own bodies and the method of contraception that best meets their needs.

“Implementing this policy for 17 to 25 year olds is a first step towards making free contraception a cornerstone of women’s healthcare in Ireland.  This scheme represents real progress, and the Green Party will build on this by continuing to work towards a high-quality scheme that delivers universal, free access to contraception.

Service providers who have signed up to the scheme from today, and in the coming weeks, include GPs, pharmacies, primary care centres, family planning centres and student health clinics.

Information regarding the scheme will be available through the HSE’s website. This information will be regularly updated and will provide full details of how to access the scheme.

– ENDS –