Health minister Simon Harris is aiming to provide all women in Ireland with free access to the contraceptive pill. However, in order to do so, an amendment to primary legislation is necessary as it will require a massive change in Irish law.
Women without medical cards are currently paying for both access to the contraceptive pill as well as additional costs for repeat appointments every six months or so in order to renew their prescription. Harris’s proposal also includes various other contraception methods including the implant and the coil.
Harris stated: “In relation to female contraception, I am determined that we address the cost issue there. As you know a woman today who has a medical card can access contraception for free. There are two issues – the cost of the doctor’s visit, because generally women need to see a doctor on these matters, and then the actual cost of the contraception, so it is likely to require an amendment to primary legislation, but I am hoping we can make progress on that in 2019.”
Harris also said that he has asked department officials to work with medical experts in order to make a change. In addition to this, the health minister has been in discussion about funding free barrier contraception and increasing the availability of free condoms. “My intention is to start in 2019, through the budgetary process, with a significant increase in barrier contraception.”