Expanding the Free Contraception Scheme, But More Needs to Be Done

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The recent announcement by the Minister for Health to expand the free contraception scheme to include women aged 32-35 marks a step in the right direction for reproductive health services in Ireland. Starting from 1 July, women aged 17 to 35 will be eligible to apply for the scheme. While this expansion is welcome, it falls short of addressing several pressing issues in women’s health care. Expanding the Free Contraception Scheme, But More Needs to Be Done

Expanding Access to Contraception

The free contraception scheme, which began in 2022, has provided vital support by covering GP consultations, family planning services, and various contraception options. With almost 2,400 GPs and 2,050 pharmacies participating, the scheme reached over 189,000 people last year. The extension to include women up to age 35 is a positive development, supported by an additional €4 million from the Women’s Health Fund.

However, while Minister for Health Mr. Donnelly emphasizes the importance of supporting women in controlling their reproductive health, it is clear that this expansion is merely a small step towards addressing broader systemic issues in women’s health.

The Unaddressed Costs of Period Products and HRT

Period Products: Despite the progress in contraception access, the cost of period products remains a significant financial burden. Period poverty affects many women, forcing them to make difficult choices between essential items and managing their menstrual health. The government’s failure to subsidize or provide free period products in schools, workplaces, and public facilities leaves a critical gap in women’s health care.

HRT: Similarly, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is essential for many women undergoing menopause, yet its high cost makes it inaccessible for some. Addressing the affordability of HRT is crucial for ensuring that all women can manage menopausal symptoms effectively and maintain their quality of life.

Incomplete Reforms and the Need for Comprehensive Action

While the expansion of the free contraception scheme is a step forward, it underscores the need for comprehensive reform in women’s health care. The current measures do not go far enough to address the diverse and pressing health needs of women in Ireland.

Minister Donnelly’s assertion that this scheme is a “significant step forward” fails to acknowledge the broader scope of necessary reforms. True progress requires a holistic approach that includes affordable access to period products and HRT, along with continued improvements in reproductive health services.


The extension of the free contraception scheme to women aged 32-35 is a positive move but falls short of a comprehensive solution. Addressing the cost of period products and HRT is essential for creating a truly equitable health care system for women. The government’s actions thus far are a start, but much more needs to be done to ensure all women in Ireland have access to the health care they deserve. The time for half-measures is over; it’s time for a full commitment to women’s health.

Expanding the Free Contraception Scheme, But More Needs to Be Done

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