I propose to answer Questions Nos. 11 and 72 together.
Deputy Barry was up early this morning as well. I thank him for his timely question regarding contraception. I reiterate on the record of this House my view that we need to make contraception free for all women in our country. We have made very significant progress regarding male contraception in terms of condoms. We have very significantly increased the amount of condoms being distributed. We are putting vending machines into a number of locations throughout the country and our sexual health strategy very much aligns with this both in terms of reducing crisis pregnancy and in terms of reducing sexually transmitted infections, STIs, which are at a worrying level in our country.
The question of access to contraception is an important one. That is why, following on from the recommendations of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, I established a working group within my Department to examine the range of policy, regulatory and legislative issues because there are issues in each of those areas which arise with respect to improving access to contraception. I established the group in April and it has overseen a public consultation exercise. It received many public submissions and submissions from stakeholders. It has undertaken a review of research and met a number of stakeholders directly. I am pleased to say the group has just finalised its report and it has submitted to me in recent days for consideration.
It goes without saying that I intend to fully consider the detail of the report but, in doing so, I do not intend to sit on it. I would like to publish it and will do so this month. It might be very helpful for the Joint Committee on Health to see it also and to be able to consider some of these issues. We know, however, that there can be barriers to accessing contraception and that cost can be an issue. Most forms of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraceptives, LARCs, are provided free of charge to those with medical cards, so we are not starting from a point of nobody having free access. Many people already have free access to contraception. I have already mentioned the national condom distribution service, which supports free access to contraception among those who may be at increased risk of negative sexual health outcomes. The working group examined other means by which the costs involved in accessing contraception can be reduced and it has come up with a range of recommendations as well.
I intend to publish the report shortly. I suggest we will have a body of work to do in terms of legislation and policy options and we should get on and do that.