Women aged 27-30 can avail of free contraception following the expansion of a State-funded scheme.
Women, girls and other people identifying as transgender or non-binary who are ordinarily resident in Ireland and are prescribed contraception by their doctors up can avail of the scheme until their 31st birthdays.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced the broadening of the initiative, which has been open to those aged 17-25 since last September. It was expanded to include 26-year-olds last January.
“Ireland has come a long way in terms of the supports it offers for sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equity and family planning,” the Minister said. “Increasing access to free contraception through the free contraception scheme and the National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS) is therefore a key priority for this Government, supporting positive sexual health and choice in family planning.”
Mr Donnelly said: “In the context of the current cost-of-living crisis, given that the higher costs of prescription contraception are typically faced by women, the scheme impacts positively on gender equity, reducing costs for women, their partners and families.”
The scheme covers the cost of GP consultations, family planning and prescriptions for the range of contraceptive options available on the Health Service Executive’s reimbursement list. These options include long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) such as injections, implants and hormonal and copper intrauterine devices and systems (coils). LARC fittings, removals, injections and checks are also free under the scheme. Emergency contraception, the oral contraceptive pill, patch and ring are also covered.
Women who have had coils or implants inserted under the scheme will remain eligible for checks and free removal of any devices inserted before their 31st birthday to ensure continuity of care.
Almost 2,400 GPs and 1,950 pharmacies have signed up to provide services and products under the scheme. Approximately €31.5 million was allocated to support the scheme this year.