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Ireland

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OVERVIEW

Ireland has taken important steps related to family planning in the last few decades. Since 1980, birth control has been legal and, since 2011, emergency contraception (the morning after pill) is available over the counter. The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) provides many educational and health resources to the general public, as well. There are a few sites in Dublin that provide free HIV tests, and you can also get at-home kits for STI tests from IFPA. While there is currently no major PrEP program in Ireland, you can access PEP at many locations throughout the country. There is a national HPV vaccination program as well. For many years, Irish abortion laws were some of the most restrictive in the world. However, in May 2018, Irish voters chose to overturn the abortion ban in a landslide vote.[1]

Contraception (Birth Control)[edit]

General Note: There are many types of contraceptives, also known as "birth control," including IUDs, oral contraceptives, patches, shots, and condoms, etc. If you would like to view a full list, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Ireland, contraception (birth control) has been legal since 1980. You generally need a prescription to obtain birth control. Once you have a prescription, you can get birth control at pharmacies. You don't need a prescription for condoms. According to a 2015 report, 67.2% of Irish women (who were married or in-unions) used some form of contraception. The most common methods were condoms (23.7%), the pill (17.5%), IUDs (8.5%) and male sterilization (7.3%).

From 1935 to 1980, contraception was banned in Ireland. This was largely due to the Roman Catholic Church's view on birth control, which stated that birth control "deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life" and was therefore "an offence against the law of God and of nature." However, during this period, there were legal loopholes that allowed some people to obtain condoms (like making donations to family planning associations). The first serious attempt to liberalize Irish abortion laws came in 1971, when Senator Mary Robinson tried to introduce a bill into the Seanad, the upper house of the Irish legislature, but was not allowed to read the bill. The bill caused both controversy and discussion, but it was not passed. Later, in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing marital privacy, which included the right to make contraceptive choices. However, the prohibition on contraceptive sales was not lifted until 1980, when the Health (Family Planning) Bill was passed. In 1985, the law was further broadened to allow the sale of condoms and spermicide (without a prescription) to anyone over 18 years old.

While some Irish people still oppose contraceptives, a large percentage of Irish women today use some form of contraception.[2] However, contraceptive use in Ireland does remain one of the lowest in the European Union, signaling room for further education and accessibility among women.[3]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • In Ireland, you can purchase condoms at pharmacies, supermarkets, GUM clinics and at vending machines (found in pubs and nightclubs). They can also be found at student unions and health centers, where they're often free. In Dublin, you can get free condoms at HIV Ireland (70 Eccles St., Dublin 7) or, if you're a man who has sex with men, you can get them from the Man2Man Programme (they have locations in Outhouse, Pantibar and The George). For more information on where to find free condoms in Ireland, click here.
  • In Ireland, you need a prescription for birth control pills. To do this, you should go to a GP (General Practitioner). If you need advice, you can get a contraceptive consultation at IFPA for €55.00. Once you have a prescription, you can find both combined (estrogen-progestin) and progestin-only (also known as "mini pills") birth control. You can expect to see brands like Yasmin, Ovranette, Ovranette 30, Microlite, Miranova, Microgynon, Cerazette, Cilest, Femodene, Mercilon, Marviol and Minulet at pharmacies. For information on birth control pills in Ireland, as well as general information about pill types, click here.
  • If you want a vaginal ring (Nuvaring), it's been available in Ireland since 2003, which is when it was approved by the IFPA.[4]
  • If you want an intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS), you can get it at your GP surgery, genito-urinary (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic. For example, you can get it at The Well Woman Centre, where you can get the Mirena and Jadelle.
  • If you want a contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera),you can get it at your GP surgery, genito-urinary (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic. While Depo-Provera is the most common type of injectable, there may be other types of injectables in Ireland.
  • If you want a contraceptive implant (Implanon), you can get it at your GP surgery, genito-urinary (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic. Currently, Implanon is the only contraceptive implant used in Ireland, according to Health Service Executive.[5]
  • If you want the contraceptive patch, you can get it from your GP, local family planning clinic or sexual health (GUM) clinic.

Costs[edit]

At IFPA, prices vary depending on the contraceptive. For a consultation for the contraceptive pill, the price is €55.00. For a one-month supply of birth control pills, you can expect to pay around €6.00-€15.00. For IUDs (the copper coil), you can expect to pay €255.00 (for insertion and the device). For IUD removal, it's around €55.00. For IUS (Mirena or Jaydess), the price is €210.00, which does not include the device. They provide 6-week check-ups for free. Removal of the device €55.00. The contraceptive implant (Implanon) costs €175.00 (excluding the device) and €120.00 for removal. For a diaphragm/cap, the price is €120.00 for the procedure, €20.00 for the device and €60.00 for removal.

Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)[edit]

Important Notes: Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy for three days (72 hours) and sometimes five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex. If you don't have access to dedicated EC, oral contraceptives can be used as replacement EC, but remember the following: 1) Only some contraceptives work as EC 2) Different contraceptives require different dosages and time schedules to work as EC 3) You must only use the first 21 pills in 28-day packs and 4) They may be less effective than dedicated EC. For general information on emergency contraceptives, click here and here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Ireland, you can purchase emergency contraception (the morning after pill) without a prescription. There are no age restrictions (so, if you're an adolescent or teenager, you can also purchase it). Since 2001, emergency contraception has been directly available behind the counter. The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) calls emergency contraception "a safe, effective and responsible method of preventing pregnancy" and provides thorough information about EC on its website.

Before May 2015, you could only purchase ella (currently considered the most effective EC) with a prescription in Ireland. However, it is now available for purchase without a prescription. If customers wish to purchase emergency contraception on their medical cards, they may still need a prescription.[6]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • You can purchase dedicated emergency contraception in Ireland without a prescription. To do this, you can go to a pharmacy, emergency room, public clinic or private clinic and say that you want emergency contraception. They may give you a brief consultation or questionnaire before they give you the pills. You can buy ellaOne (take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex), which is an anti-progestin pill and currently the most effective EC on the market. Here's a link to the ellaOne website for Ireland, if you want more information. You can also purchase progestin-only emergency contraception, such as Levonelle 1500 or NorLevo 1.5mg (for these take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex). You should note that, generally, most EC lasts for 3 days but ella can be effective for up to 5 days.[7]
  • If you can't access dedicated emergency contraception, you can use oral contraceptive (regular birth control) instead. To do this, you should remember to only use the first 21 pills in 28-day packs. You can take Ovranette or Ovranette 30 (take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later). You can also take Microlite or Miranova (take 5 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 5 more pills 12 hours later).[8]
  • You can also get an IUD as emergency contraception. To see your options, check out the "Contraception (Birth Control)" section.

For more information, check out the Princeton EC website. You can also contact RE(AL)-PRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "Re(al)-Productive Health is a working group which specifically aims to promote access to emergency hormonal contraception, or ‘the morning after pill’ in Ireland, and to improve reproductive rights and well-being more broadly for those living here."

Costs[edit]

You can expect to pay between €35-50 for emergency contraception at pharmacies, depending on the brand. At IFPA, they charge €33.00 for Levonelle and €65.00 for ellaOne. The costs include consultation and the pill.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs)[edit]

Important Notes - Learn about PEP and PrEP: If you think that you've been recently exposed to HIV (i.e. within 72 hours), seek out PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a month-long treatment to prevent HIV infection after exposure, and it may be available in your city. Take PEP as soon as possible. For more information, click here. If you are at risk of HIV exposure, seek out PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a daily oral pill that can prevent HIV infection before exposure. To learn more about PrEP, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Ireland, there are no travel or residency restrictions attached to STI status. They do not ask for medical certificates when you enter the country. You can also carry antiretroviral medication for personal use.[9]

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is available in Ireland. Check out the "Medications and Vaccines" section for details.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is currently not widely available in Ireland, as of January 2017. Check out this page for updates. It is currently more widely available in the United Kingdom.

Testing Facilities[edit]

For local testing sites, please visit the city pages, like the Dublin page.

Support[edit]

  • Hepatitis Partnership: "The Hepatitis C Partnership provides centralised information and support for all those affected by Hepatitis C and those working with them. We aim to enhance and strengthen the support and information sharing network through the community and voluntary sector by working collaboratively with service providers and other stakeholders. Ireland now has a commitment to treating everyone with Hepatitis C - The Hepatitis C Partnership aims to be central to this initiative."
  • HIV Ireland: "Our Mission: To contribute towards a significant reduction in the incidence and prevalence of HIV in Ireland and towards the realisation of an AIDS-free generation. Our Vision: Advocating for individuals living with HIV, preventing new HIV infections and combating HIV-related stigma and discrimination."

Costs[edit]

STI screening is not covered under either the medical or GP-only card. There are some health clinics that provide free HIV tests (or STI tests), which we have listed. At IFPA, you can expect to pay €125 for a full STI screening or €70 for an at-home test kit.

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you have a yeast infection, you can ask the pharmacist for Fluconazole.
  • Ireland has had an HPV vaccination program in place since 2010, which targets 12-13 year old girls.[10] The program is fully financed by the national health authorities.
  • Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is available in Ireland. It's free and available in most STI/GUM clinics and Hospital Emergency Departments. However, if you go to a Hospital Emergency Department without a referral letter, you may need to pay €100 (this rule is mandated by the Department of Health). In Dublin, you can get it at St. James Hospital, Mater Clinic, Mater Hospital, St. Vincent's University Hospital, Beaumont Hospital and many other facilities. Check out this this link for a full list of PEP providers in Ireland.
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is currently not widely available in Ireland, as of January 2017. Check out this page for updates. It is currently more widely available in the United Kingdom.

Costs[edit]

Menstruation[edit]

Note: In addition to pads and tampons, you can also use menstrual cups and menstrual underwear for your period. To learn more about menstrual cups, click here. To learn more about menstrual underwear, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

In Ireland, you can find pads, tampons and menstrual cups at pharmacies. The most commonly sold menstrual cup may be MoonCup, which is produced in the UK, and can be found in Boots pharmacies. In Dublin, you can also find MoonCups at Restore Healthfoods, Hopsack and Dublin Food Coop, among other locations.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • Free Cervical Screening @ IFPA: "The IFPA is a registered smeartaker with CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme, and offers free cervical screening to women aged 25 to 60 at our two Dublin clinics."

Costs[edit]

Pregnancy[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

Ireland has maternity and paternity leave policies. Click here for details.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • You can get a pregnancy test at IFPA for €20. You can get pregnancy testing and a medical consultation at IFPA for €60. Click here for details.
  • You can get free pregnancy counseling at IFPA: "The IFPA provides confidential and non-directive pregnancy counselling services for women and their partners who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy which has become a crisis."
  • You can get fertility advice/consultation at IFPA: "If you are having difficulties conceiving it’s important to remember that you are not alone − fertility problems affect about one in six couples. There are many treatments available to help you." "The total cost for the consultation and the above investigations is €200 or €250 including the Antimullerian hormone test. This also includes provision and explanation of results either face to face or by phone, depending on your personal preference. A repeat consultation costs €60."

Costs[edit]

At supermarkets and pharmacies, you can get a home pregnancy test for about €10.

Abortion[edit]

Important Note: There are two main types of abortions: medical (also known as the "abortion pill") and surgical (also known as "in-clinic"). For medical abortions, you take a pill to induce abortion. For surgical abortions, a procedure is performed to induce abortion. For general information about medical and surgical abortions, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

UPDATE: IRISH VOTERS HAVE CHOSEN TO OVERTURN THE ABORTION BAN, AS OF MAY 2018. WE WILL UPDATE THIS PAGE WITH MORE DETAILS ON THE NEW ABORTION POLICY AS FURTHER DETAILS COME.

Ireland has one of the strictest abortion laws in the word. In Ireland, abortion is illegal except for when the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. In all other cases, including to preserve physical health, to preserve mental health, rape or incest, risk of fetal impairment, social or economic reasons, abortion is prohibited. If a woman obtains an abortion in Ireland, she may be sentenced to fourteen years in prison. If a woman obtains an abortion in Northern Ireland, she may be sentenced to life in prison.[11]

The history of Ireland's strict abortion policies goes back to The Offences against the Person Act (1861), which was a law that spanned across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In the 1930s, the United Kingdom began liberalizing its abortion laws. Ireland, however, not only maintained these abortion laws, but it also strengthened the existing laws. In 1983, the Irish government added this clause to the Constitution: "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."[12] In 2013, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was passed, which allows abortions in cases when the woman's life is endangered (either medically or due to risk of suicide).

Today, if Irish women wish to obtain an abortion, they often travel to the United Kingdom, where it is legal and available upon request. Others may obtain the abortion pill online through Women on Web. You can read about some of these women here.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • You can get the "abortion pill" through Women Help Women Women Help Women or Women on Web. [1]. Please remember that abortion is illegal in Ireland and there may be some risks if you choose this route. Contact Women Help Women or Women on Web for details.
  • Need Abortion Ireland: "Needabortionireland.org helps people in Ireland to access abortion services. It operates on the ethos that abortion is basic healthcare and should be free, safe and legal, available to everyone who requests it. If you need an abortion we also recommend visiting www.womenhelp.org for info on the early medical abortion pill. Need Abortion Ireland operates a text support service from 6pm to 9pm everyday on 089 490 2517. Anyone seeking help or information can also contact by email: info@needabortionireland.org."
  • Marie Stopes Services for Irish Women in the U.K.: "Marie Stopes UK has been providing unplanned pregnancy services for Irish women for over 40 years. Every year, 2,500 women decide to travel to one of our 70 abortion clinics in the UK to access treatment privately. We are the only charity offering medical abortion (abortion pill) in our Belfast clinic." They also offer discounts for Irish women. Check out the website for details. You can call them 24 hours: 0345 300 8090.
  • Free Post-Abortion Counseling at IFPA: Free post-abortion counselling can be booked through our National Pregnancy Helpline 1850 49 50 51 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm). "We know abortion can be hard to talk about. Women may experience a range of feelings after an abortion. The IFPA’s professional and confidential counselling service is available for women who wish to talk to someone after an abortion. Our counsellors are experienced in supporting women who have had an abortion."
  • Free Post-Abortion Medical Check-Up: "A free post-abortion check-up in the Dublin area can be booked through calling our medical clinics: IFPA Dublin City Centre Clinic, 5/7 Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin 1, IFPA Tallaght Clinic, Level 3, The Square Shopping Centre, Tallaght, Dublin 24. A check-up in other locations nationwide can be booked through our National Pregnancy Helpline 1850 49 50 51."

Costs[edit]

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline: "The Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline offers confidential information, support and understanding to women in the Republic of Ireland, who are being abused by current or former boyfriends, partners or husbands."
  • Saoirse Women’s Refuge: 24 Hr helpline providing support and a listening non judgement ear 01 4630000. Short term refuge accommodation for women and children suffering domestic abuse. Refuge which is staffed 24 Hrs a day / 365 days a year. Daycaller service providing one to one support sessions by appointment.
  • LGBT HELPLINE - Call: 1890 929 539: "The LGBT Helpline is a non-judgmental and confidential service providing listening, support and information to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, their family and friends, and to those who are questioning if they might be LGBT. The LGBT Helpline service is provided by a network of trained volunteers from a number of local LGBT helplines."
  • LGBT Messaging Support App: "Our instant messaging support service is free, confidential and secure."

Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

  • Irish Feminist Network: "The IFN is a members-based organisation committed to promoting gender equality in Ireland. Co-ordinators currently oversee the IFN’s work in the broad areas of policy and research, outreach and events, and campaigns and advocacy. The organisation is open to all those interested in working towards a more just and equitable society through the elimination of gender inequalities."
  • BeLonG To: "BeLonG To is the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) young people, aged between 14 and 23."
  • National Women's Council of Ireland: "The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) is the leading national women’s membership organisation seeking equality between women and men, founded in 1973."
  • Abortion Rights Campaign: "The Abortion Rights Campaign is a movement for choice and change in Ireland. We aim to promote broad national support for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution by the Irish Parliament; to push for the introduction of extensive abortion legislation by the Northern Ireland Assembly; and to ensure the health and rights of women in pregnancy are protected in line with international human rights standards."
  • Speaking of Imelda: "Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. is a direct action feminist performance group that seeks to challenge the ongoing problem of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion. We operate against the shaming and silencing of women who have had abortions in the Irish region and more widely."

References[edit]

  1. Ireland votes to overturn its abortion ban, ‘culmination of a quiet revolution,’ prime minister says
  2. Contraception in the Republic of Ireland
  3. Birth control use here among EU lowest
  4. The IFPA welcomes the introduction of NuvaRing to Ireland as a new method of taking hormonal contraception
  5. Contraceptive Implants and Injectables
  6. Irish women can now buy the most effective morning-after pill without a prescription
  7. Princeton EC Website
  8. Princeton EC Website
  9. IRELAND - REGULATIONS ON ENTRY, STAY AND RESIDENCE FOR PLHIV
  10. Ireland: Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2016
  11. How Irish Women Are Getting Around Abortion Laws
  12. UN Report on Abortion Policies: Ireland