Stephen Donnelly explains why free contraception made for one age group only after Budget backlash
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has explained why Budget 2022 limited free contraception to women aged between 17 and 25.
The Minister took to social media on Tuesday night and tweeted: “Condoms are already freely available from public sexual health clinics and colleges/universities across the country. They do not require a prescription, or repeat visits to a doctor.”
Under the €31 million women’s health package, the contraceptive pill will be free of charge but it is believed individuals will have to continue to pay the prescription charge.
Women will also have access to long active reversible contraception such as the implant or ‘the bar’.
He followed up his tweet with another: “A number of reports and studies have considered the existing cost barriers to contraception and concluded that young women are disproportionately impacted. And so, this is where we are starting.
He concluded: “We will be covering the cost of medical consultations, prescription medication and the fitting and removal of (long-acting reversible contraceptives) under this new scheme. Over time, I plan to extend access to other age groups.
This is the first step.”
Minister Donnelly’s comments come after the contraceptive scheme announced in Budget 2022 faced backlash.
One key point of anger was the fact that it is only available for women aged 17 to 25 - and not for men at all.
It also caused a stir online with many claiming that it implies that it is the sole responsibility of a woman to have contraception.
Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan said: "Free contraception is welcome but why start at 17? Can 16, 15 and 14 year olds not get pregnant?
"Basic biology will tell you starting a programme like this at 17 makes little sense. Extend the programme to include everyone, access to reproductive rights and contraception should be universal to be effective."
While People Before Profit TD Mick Barry asked: "Free contraception for women aged 17-25. Why not for other women? And why not for men? Are women meant to be solely responsible for contraception, then?"