The availability of free contraception for young women will save them almost €200 each year, according to a Fianna Fáil TD.
Unveiling Budget 2022 on Tuesday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath confirmed women between 17-25 will be able to avail of free contraception, covering prescription contraception, long acting reversible contraception and the cost of consultations.
TD for Dublin North West Paul McAuliffe said the annual cost of prescription contraception is estimated to average €191, while long acting reversible contraception can cost in the region of €250.
The allocation is part of a €31 million package for women's healthcare and aims to address barriers for younger women in accessing contraception after a UN study found 11 per cent of Irish women had an unmet need, with cost being one of the top reasons cited.
Mr McAulifee is welcoming the initiative, calling it a "very progressive policy" and "one which will ease the financial burden many young women experience in accessing contraception".
"Importantly, it will also provide young women with a choice of contraception so they can choose the one which they feel works best for them without having to consider previously high upfront costs," he adds.
The plan is expected to be rolled out on a phased basis next year, with engagement now taking place with representative groups regarding how it can be implemented.
However, the move has been met with questions, including why the allocation will only cover women in the 19-25 cohort, although Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has indicated his intent to expand the age group at a later stage.
The Rape Crisis Network has also said the age of consent has been inappropriately brought into the conversation.
Executive director of the Rape Crisis Network, Dr Cliona Sadlear said the discussion around the age of consent is getting confused with contraception after Minister of State for Health Mary Butler said including 16-year-olds in the scheme could be open to legal challenges as the age of consent is 17.
Campaigners have also argued that the measures should be extended to men.
Speaking to Newstalk, Rosita Sweetman, a founding member of the Irish women's liberation movement, said: "If you just say it's contraceptives for women, you're perpetuating the idea that it is only women who get pregnant, so it absolutely should be contraceptives for [men] and contraceptives for women."