Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today published the Report of the Working Group on Access to Contraception.
The Minister established the Group earlier this year to consider the policy, regulatory and legislative issues relating to enhanced access to contraception, following the recommendation of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment.
Publishing the report, the Minister said:
“I want to thank my Department for this piece of work and to those who contributed through the public consultation. The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment recommended free contraception and we have made significant progress in this regard.
“In 2018, more than 409,300 condoms and 288,000 lubricant sachets were delivered through the National Condom Distribution Service to organisations working directly with people at increased risk of unplanned pregnancy or STIs. Later this year, we will expand this service and introduce vending machines across third level colleges to increase the distribution of free condoms and further promote safer sex among young people.
“This report provides us with a clear overview of the challenges involved in providing free contraception but also a clear pathway to doing so. I strongly believe cost should not be a barrier to accessing contraception.”
The Minister acknowledged that the cost to the state of introducing a free contraception scheme would be significant and welcomed the report’s consideration of other options to reduce the costs involved in accessing contraception.
Minister Harris said:
“It is important to note that the report says that there are considerations beyond the economic that should be taken into account when developing policy in this area, and this is something with which I wholeheartedly agree.”
The Minister thanked the Group for their work and expressed his appreciation to all those who had taken part in the public consultation, particularly the expert stakeholders who had taken the time to provide very detailed and helpful submissions as part of the engagement process.
“I now intend to further consider the report and intend to ask the Oireachtas Health Committee to examine the report.
“I will continue to work with my Department officials to move forward on this issue and I hope to make progress in this regard next year.”