On February 20th, 1985 history was made in Ireland. The government went against the Church to allow the sale of contraceptives in the country.
In 1973 the case McGee v. The Attorney General started the process of ending the longstanding ban on contraceptives that was in place until this time. The case determined that contraception was part of “a constitutional right to marital privacy”. Because of “strong conservative forces in Irish society”, no law was passed to make this ruling official until 1980. At this time, the Health (Family Planning) Act was passed which allowed the sale of contraceptives by registered pharmacists to those with a prescription. However, many people thought this law was still too strict.
The country was divided on this topic between those who supported improved access to contraceptives and those who believed this access would have negative effects on the country. Finally on February 20, 1985, an official vote was taken and the conservative party lost 83-80, which lead to a new law being passed. The new law made contraceptives available to people over 18 at pharmacies, without prescriptions. However, contraception still could not be advertised and birth control continued to be restricted. Yet this law was “a major turning point in Irish history”, marking the first time the government defeated the Church on a matter concerning social legislation.