Free contraception is long overdue

In Ireland, women have accepted the price they have to pay for peace of mind when dealing with their reproductive system. The lack of attention to the issue involving contraception for women has been taboo in the public eye for too long.

However, last week we have finally seen a breakthrough, with the budget announcing free contraception for women aged 17-25-years-old. We can see a real milestone taking place, as the State are beginning to realise that contraception is not something women should have to take responsibility for themselves.

This news comes with great relief for women and those who menstruate, as we can now base our chosen contraception on what suits our bodies, rather than what we can afford.

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCS) are recognised as the most effective form of contraception in preventing pregnancy.

Therefore, you may think it’s a popular choice of contraception. However, the uptake of LARCS is extremely low in Ireland, due to the upfront cost which stands at €350+.

For most women when we decide to start taking contraception, doctors will recommend the oral pill. Unfortunately, when artificial hormones are being taken, all bodies react differently. Therefore, not one type of contraception fits all.

Most women take oral pills because it is the cheapest way to take contraception, with a monthly cost of anything from €5-€15. However, this extra cost for women can be difficult and can make women question weather to even take contraception or not.

Thankfully women now have a choice… Well women between the ages of 17-25-years-old. For women to feel in control of their bodies they must be allowed to choose when and if they want to have children.

However, women can still reproduce before the age of 17 and after the age of 25, therefore, is this fair? The average reproductive years for women are between the ages of 12-51-years-old.

With the age of consent being 17 it makes sense that free contraception would begin at this age but women who are 25+ should be allowed to make the decision for themselves. The cost of contraception should be removed across the whole of the reproductive age range, to ensure choice for all.

We also must factor in the decrease that free contraception will hopefully have on abortion and the women that seek help. Since abortions were made legal in 2018, abortion care in Ireland has been absent, with only one in ten GPs and half of maternity hospitals providing abortion care, making the situation even harder for women.

Free contraception for women aged 17-25-years-old is just a steppingstone to what will hopefully develop into free universal contraception. When it comes to sex contraception is crucial for many when wanting to feel safe, the State now has the opportunity to ensure this for all.

Aoife Breslin.

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