Search icon


03rd Jun 2024

Free birth control scheme expanded to include thousands more women


The change will take effect from the start of next month.

The Government has announced that its free contraception scheme has been expanded to include women between the ages of 32 and 35.

From the start of next month (1 July), women in the age bracket between 17 to 35 will be able to apply for the scheme.

Launched in September 2022, the Government says the scheme is “open to women, girls and other people identifying as transgender or non-binary, who are ordinarily resident in Ireland and for whom prescription contraception is deemed suitable by their doctors”.

“The scheme covers the cost of consultations with GPs, family planning, student health and primary care centres, and prescriptions for the wide range of contraceptive options available on the Health Service Executive (HSE) Re-Imbursement List,” it adds.

By January of this year, almost 2,400 GPs and 2,050 community pharmacies had signed up to provide services and products under the scheme.

Speaking about its expansion, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said in a statement: “Gender should not be a barrier to healthcare, and I firmly believe that the Free Contraception Scheme is a landmark initiative that empowers women, enabling them to make choices about their reproductive health without any financial burden.

“Demand for this service is evident, and we are responding to that demand by extending services to women aged 32 to 35 inclusive from July 1. We know that many women in this age group may be planning to start families, with 33 years being the average age of a first-time mother.

“However, it is important that we support all women in providing equitable access to services that allow them to control their reproductive health and avoid unintended pregnancies.

“Hormonal contraception is also used to treat the adverse symptoms of periods such as pain and heavy bleeding, so I’m pleased that the Free Contraception Scheme will now also provide this treatment for free to women aged 32-35.

“Amid continuing cost-of-living pressures, this scheme is a significant step forward in our efforts to provide a quality, equitable health service for all.”