Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said the viability of introducing an Oral Contraception Scheme must be examined by the working group announced by the Minister this afternoon.

Last August, the Fingal based Senator highlighted the potential merit that such a scheme could have on broadening Irish women’s access to oral contraception.

The Irish Pharmacy Union also backed the establishment of a scheme by which women in Ireland could access oral contraception from their pharmacist without a prescription and free of charge.

Senator Clifford-Lee commented, “Women’s difficulty in accessing affordable oral contraception remains an important issue in this country and needs to be addressed. Today’s announcement is therefore a welcome move.

“Ireland remains in the 31% of countries internationally that continues to restrict access to the pill by prescription. The cost of attending a private physician or GP to get a prescription is often a barrier for women needing to access hormonal contraception to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

“The oral contraceptive pill is available over the counter in over 100 countries worldwide making the cost far less. Any real or meaningful attempt to increase the use of contraception among women here in Ireland largely depends on making it more readily available to every woman, not just those that can afford it.

“As legislators we have a responsibility to look at reducing restrictions for women to access safe, effective and affordable birth control. Exploring progressive policy proposals to reduce the existing restrictions for women to access birth control can only be of benefit to society as a whole,” she concluded.