Sunday 25 August 2019

Public invited to give their views on how best to increase access to contraception

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Eilish O’Regan

Members of the public and interested stakeholders are invited from today to give their views on how best to increase access to contraception.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he has set up a working group to make recommendations on how to make contraception more easily available following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Doctors and women's groups have been urging more access to contraception to prevent crisis pregnancies and abortion.

GPs in particular want to make long-acting contraception more affordable.

The public consultation launched today will inform the final report to the Minister. The consultation, which will remain open until midnight, Monday, August 5 and is available on the Department of Health website.

He said: "Removing barriers to contraception in a key priority for me as Minister for Health.

"We have begun that work through the expansion of free access to condoms this year. This allows for expanded access to the groups most at risk, and within the youth sector, including third level facilities.

"The working group has been underway in my Department since April and has done significant preparatory work.  

"However, it is important we hear from the public and stakeholders and allow them to have their say on this issue. I would encourage all those with an interest to engage with the Department’s consultation before it concludes. It is our ambition to have the Working Group’s report concluded by September.”

All responses will inform the Working Group’s examination of the issues on increasing access to contraception, and will enable the Working Group make appropriate recommendations to the Minister on policy options.

Meanwhile, it is understood the HSE is to appoint a clinical lead to oversee abortion services.

A clinical lead is a specialist working in the area who brings experience and direction to decision-making in the HSE.

Mr Harris is also to meet providers of abortion services in the coming months to examine issues which have been highlighted.

Senior doctors have criticised the lack of leadership in driving the service since it was established in January  and also the failure of most of the country’s maternity hospitals to provide a full service.

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