Friday 16 November 2018

Free condoms among series of measures to reduce crisis pregnancies

Health minister Simon Harris (Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA)
Health minister Simon Harris (Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA)
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

FREE condoms and other forms of contraception will be made available from next year by the government under a series of measures aimed at reducing crisis pregnancies.

Health Minister Simon Harris said free access to condoms will be stepped-up while other female contraceptives will also be available under the scheme.

The exact type of female contractive is to be determined by an expert group to be set up by the Department, the minister said.

He added that this may require a change in legislation.

As part of a suite of increased supports for women, sexual health education and enhanced access to contraception to reduce crisis pregnancy the Government will also support 'safer sex' behaviours, increase awareness of risks and promote testing, counselling and other services.

“It is a very significant investment and it has been approved and agreed with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and all of these measures will be rolled out,” said Mr Harris.

“There are a number of details we need to work out, particularly in relation to female contraception.

“In terms of barrier contraception for men it is pretty straightforward what needs to be done there.

“In terms of of the most effective from a medical point of view and a variety of other points of view that needs to be decided by the women’s sexual health group that I will establish.”

Mr Harris also promised the Government is also progressing measures to improve maternity and support services in line with the Maternity Strategy including extra capacity in perinatal hospice care.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said schools will also play a key role in the programme to create awareness and inform the public.

““Every student has a right to access information about sexual health, relationships and sexuality and this must be delivered in a factual manner in every school,” he said.

“We need to make sure that what is being taught in our schools meets the needs of young people today, who face a range of different issues to those faced by young people in the late 1990s, when the curriculum was last updated.”

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