On Sunday, I joined Diarmaid Ferriter (UCD) in a discussion about the history of contraception with Myles Dungan on RTÉ’s The History Show. This month marks the 25th anniversary of The Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act, 1985. The legislation was introduced by the then Minister for Health, Barry Desmond, who explained in one interview,
I regard the issue of contraception as a health matter.
Minister Desmond shifted contraception from being a justice issue to being a health issue, and in doing so, he loosened restrictions by allowing condoms and spermicides to be sold to people over 18, without having to present a prescription. Such items, however, could only be purchased from chemists. It wasn’t until the 1990s — in response to concerns about Aids — that contraception could be more widely accessed.