The Dublin Well Woman Centre (DWWC) welcomes the Department of Health’s introduction of free contraception for females aged 17-25 and sees it as a monumental step towards affordable and accessible contraception for all. From today onwards, women aged 17 – 25 can avail of free contraception from participating Women’s Health clinics and GPs.
In 2020, the DWWC published ‘The Contraception Conversation’, a comprehensive research report on women’s knowledge, awareness, and access to contraception. The research showed cost as one of the key barriers to women in accessing their preferred forms of contraception, particularly young women with those aged 17-24 significantly more likely to claim that the cost of the contraception is important when deciding on which type to use.
Speaking on the announcement, Alison Begas, Chief Executive, Dublin Well Woman Centre, said, “This is a huge day for women in Ireland and we gladly welcome the Free Contraception Scheme. Anything that takes down the barriers that block access to contraception is a win for everyone in Ireland and an important step towards a better future for women. We have long advocated for improved access for women, particularly younger women, to their preferred or the ideal form of contraception. It is important that organisations with frontline expertise, such as Well Woman, are in conversation with the HSE around implementation of the scheme, and how it will operate.”
Individual Women’s Health clinics and GPs will be given the choice in whether or not they wish to sign up to the scheme. It is not expected that every doctor will do so depending on patient demographics at each practice and the ability of doctors to take on extra work. Increased demand for these services is expected to impact on not-for-profit women’s health organisations like DWWC also. The DWWC is in discussion with the HSE regarding access to the scheme and future logistics.
Dr Shirley McQuade, Medical Director of the Dublin Well Woman Centre said, “There is no one right form of contraception for all woman and many will change what contraception they use over time. Now that cost is no longer a barrier, we advise that women research all options covered in the scheme, and have a discussion with a participating doctor to ensure they pick the right option for them and their bodies.”
The new scheme will cover prescription costs and necessary consultations to discuss various contraception options. It also includes the fitting or removal of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). LARCs have proven to be a much more effective form of contraception than the oral contraceptive pill, with evidence showing them to be at least 10 times more effective than any other form of reversible contraception.
The DWWC has been experiencing a growing demand amongst women in Ireland for LARCs with many women increasingly aware of the benefits of LARCs when presenting to a Well Woman Clinic Doctor for their initial consultation.
About the Dublin Well Woman Centre:
The Dublin Well Woman Centre (DWWC) was founded in 1978, with the aim of giving women in Ireland access to information and services around contraception, at a time when it was largely illegal. In the 1980s and 90s the organisation fought a number of court cases at the High Court and Supreme Court, eventually winning (at the European Court of Human Rights) the right to give women information on abortion and on abortion services available outside the State. DWWC operates three women’s health clinics in Dublin, and employs 36 doctors, nurses, counsellors, and administrative staff. Over 35,000 consultations are provided annually, and the DWWC prides itself on offering services that support women at every stage of their reproductive health journey. The Dublin Well Woman Centre is a not-for-profit organisation and is a registered charity.