Harris Group to Consider Taxpayer-Funded Contraception
Minister for Health Simon Harris has established a working group to examine ways of removing cost barriers to accessing contraception. The group will examine a number of issues on cost including whether or not a doctor’s prescription should be required for the contraceptive pill.
The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, which recommended the referendum to remove the constitutional ban on abortion last year, also made a number of other recommendations including that contraception should be free of charge.
It was revealed earlier this year that Minister Harris was lobbied by the pharmaceutical industry to provide taxpayer-funded contraception.
German pharma company Bayer wrote to the minister on 18 December last year on the issue of state-funded contraception. Bayer said it welcomed the government’s commitment to a free contraception programme. The letter says the government should offer all forms of contraception under such a programme, but advocates the use of long acting reversible contraception (or LARCs) in particular. Bayer produces a number of forms of contraception including the pill, and some LARCs.
It is expected the working group will make recommendations to the minister in the autumn. “Cost should not be a barrier to accessing contraception and I am determined to address this,” Minister Harris said.
RTÉ. March 4. The Journal. January 26. The Irish Times. March 4.