The free contraception scheme initially for women aged 17 to 25 was launched on September 14 of this year and will include women aged 17-30 by September 1, 2023.
The scheme is currently open to women aged 17 to 25 who are resident in Ireland.
Eligible women are able to visit GPs and other medical facilities such as family planning clinics for consultations regarding the best contraceptive options from them.
Over 2,200 GPs, primary care centres, family planning centres and student health clinics have signed contracts with the HSE to provide services under the scheme since September, with more providers likely to join the scheme soon. Over 1,850 pharmacies are also participating in the scheme.
Funding is also provided through Budget 2023 to expand the scheme for 16-year-olds also, subject to consultation across Government, legal advice and legislative amendment.
Total funding of approximately €32m has been allocated in Budget 2023 to support the scheme.
“I am delighted to announce the expansion of the free contraception scheme for 26-year-olds in the New Year. Women’s health continues to be a top priority for myself and this Government,” Minister Donnelly said.
“Today represents another milestone in the delivery of our commitments to support women’s health, to expand access to contraception and to fulfil the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. From January 1, this expansion will also provide added supports to women and to their partners in the context of the ongoing cost of living crisis,” Mr Donnelly said.
Prescriptions are dispensed at a local pharmacy of choice and if Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) such as coils and implants are chosen, patients return to a service provider participating in the scheme to have the device fitted, and subsequently removed.
All of these costs are fully covered by the State and are free of charge to the patient.
Information regarding the scheme is available through the HSE’s sexualwellbeing.ie website.