Free contraceptive pill could be introduced

By Alison Rothwell

Free contraceptive pill could be introduced according to Health Minister Simon Harris. Image Credit: Get The Facts

The Irish Government are drawing up proposals to examine the possibility of introducing free contraceptive pill for Irish women. 

This has come after the Dáil debated the Oireachtas Committee’s recommendation on the Eighth Amendment. With Ireland’s abortion referendum approaching, Minister for Health Simon Harris is trying to facilitate this scheme, whilst the government must consider the cost and scope of introducing this, the Irish Times reported on March 10th.

“(If) our underlying principle is that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, then we must do all we can to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and to support women in every way,” Harris said.

Dr. Gerry McCarthy, consultant in Emergency Medicine at Cork University Hospital spoke to The College View about the reality and risks associated with providing free contraception to females of childbearing age in Ireland.

“I would support the right of all women of childbearing age to be considered for prescription of the oral contraceptive pill, if they so wish. In relation to the risk to the health of the woman taking the contraception, there are side effects which can cause an increase in the risk of significant illness.

“In general, these are relevant to certain women, based on their known medical history and of negligible significance for the majority of women,” he said.

“It is for this reason that the decision to prescribe the oral contraceptive pill should be made by a suitably qualified medical practitioner, after assessing the woman for whom the pill will be prescribed,” he continued.

“The issue of children in their mid teenage years requesting contraception, either with or without their parents’ support or knowledge, needs to be robustly considered, in terms of balancing their rights as citizens with their overall welfare, as judged by others suitably trained in this area.

“After many years of considering this issue, I strongly feel that citizens with real or perceived emergency needs should not be denied access to healthcare based on ability to pay, but there should be some nominal fee to recognise that there is a cost associated with this provision,” he said.

DCU Sports Science and Health student Eva-Marie Elliott spoke about her thoughts on free contraceptive oral pill for women.

“I think that it’s so important that we all repeal the 8th amendment, and that every women in Ireland should be allowed to have an abortion if she wishes, but there has to be basic measurements in place to try and prevent women needing abortions in the first place. Contraception is expensive and I think it would make a huge difference to the amount of crisis pregnancies occurring,” she said.

Alison Rothwell

Image credit: Get The Facts