Universal free contraception could cost up to €100m per year - report

Universal free contraception could cost up to €100m per year - report

A universal free contraception scheme would cost the taxpayer up to €100m per year.

That is the finding of a new report commissioned by Health Minister Simon Harris, who has committed to introducing free contraception by 2021.

The Report of the Working Group on Access to Contraception outlines three main approaches the Minister could take to introducing free contraception.

Making contraception free to all women would cost up to €100m per year; making it free for just 17- to 24-year-olds would cost up to €22m per year, while just making long-acting reversible contraceptives free would cost up to €40m per year.

Cliona Loughnane from the National Women's Council said the council is in favour of the universal approach.

"Access to contraception is a basic part of women's reproductive healthcare needs and we really feel that it needs to be provided thourough the public system as a universal service," she said.

The report says the notion that there is a widespread problem of women being unable to afford contraception is unproven.

Meanwhile, almost one in four of those who reported difficulty accessing contraception cited embarrassment as a factor.

Research also highlighted that young women reported being afraid to reveal they are sexually active, embarrassed to be seen at a family planning clinic, or worried about confidentiality breaches.

“Embarrassment has also been reported in relation to talking to GPs, pharmacists and clinic staff about contraception and with regard to purchasing condoms, as well as asking partners to wear them and using them,” the report adds.

Minister Simon Harris has sent the report to the Oireachtas Health Committee for consideration.

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