Roisin Shortall TD

Health Committee backs Deputy Shortall’s proposal to follow WHO policy in respect of the availability of contraception

The Minister for Health should mark International Women’s Day by allowing pharmacists to dispense prescription-free oral contraceptives, according to Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall.

“At today’s Oireachtas Health Committee, representatives of the Irish Pharmacy Union made a compelling case for their members to be permitted to supply contraceptives without the need for a GP prescription, in line with WHO policy.

“The committee supported my proposal to endorse the IPU’s call and will now write to the Minister urging him to allow direct access to oral contraceptives through community pharmacies.

“Irish pharmacies have been providing emergency contraception without prescription since 2011, and there is no clinical reason why this should not be extended to oral contraception.

“Not only would increasing community pharmacists’ role in the dispensing of birth control medication ease the burden on overstretched GPs, but it would also make contraception more accessible.

“Removing the barrier to prescription-free contraceptives would help reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and assist in reaching groups who are less likely to engage with health services.

“The IPU have convincingly argued that with proper protocols and training in place, this is a very safe and effective healthcare intervention that is standard in many other countries.

“This proposal provides the Minister with an opportunity to mark International Women’s Day in a meaningful way and I now call on him to respond positively to the Health Committee’s recommendation.”

March 8, 2023

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