Family Planning Association
|Type||Sexual health charity|
|Key people||President: Baroness Gould of Potternewton
Chief Executive: Dr Audrey Simpson OBE
Chair of the Board of Trustees: Dr Val Day
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Focus(es)||Sexual health information, contraception, abortion rights|
|Motto||Talking sense about sex|
|Formerly called||Family Planning Association|
FPA (Family Planning Association) is a UK registered charity (number 250187) working to enable people to make informed choices about sex and to enjoy sexual health. It is the national affiliate for the International Planned Parenthood Federation in the United Kingdom. It celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2010. Its motto is "Talking sense about sex."
FPA was founded in 1930 when five birth control societies merged to form the National Birth Control Council (NBCC). Its stated purpose was "that married people may space or limit their families and thus mitigate the evils of ill health and poverty". The NBCC changed its name to the National Birth Control Association (NBCA) in 1931, and then to the Family Planning Association (FPA) in 1939. Since 1998 it has been known as FPA.
Originally only offering a service to married couples, during the 1950s FPA clinics began to offer pre-marital advice to women, although proof, such as a letter from a vicar or family doctor, was often required before contraceptive supplies were provided.
During the 1960s, social and sexual attitudes changed dramatically. The combined pill was first prescribed in FPA clinics in 1961 and within ten years was being used by over one million women. This highly reliable method brought a new sense of sexual freedom to men and women.
By 1970, FPA clinics were offering advice and treatment, without restriction. In 1974, FPA handed their network of over 1,000 clinics to the NHS when contraception became free for all. Family planning is still part of the health service.
As of 2010, the President of FPA is Baroness Gould of Potternewton; Vice Presidents include Jacqui Lait, Joan Ruddock MP, and Baroness Tonge and the charity is supported by a number of patrons. Additionally FPA is steered by a Board of Trustees of 12; the Chair is Dr Val Day and the Vice Chair is Paul Woodward. In January 2008, Julie Bentley became the Chief Executive, taking over from Anne Weyman OBE, who previously led the organisation for 11 years.
In October 2012, Dr Audrey Simpson OBE became Chief Executive of FPA taking over from Julie Bentley, who previously led the organisation for five years.
FPA aims to improve the public's knowledge of sexual health. The organisation runs training courses and projects for professionals, grandparents, parents, carers and young people, and provides an information and press service to communicate sexual health information more widely.
FPA runs an enquiry service providing confidential information and advice on contraception; common sexually transmitted infections; pregnancy choices; abortion and planning a pregnancy. The enquiry service is made up of its helpline and Web Enquiry Service (Ask WES).
FPA also provides clinic details of contraception, sexual health and genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics and sexual assault referral centres. In Northern Ireland, where abortion is difficult to obtain, FPA offers an unplanned pregnancy counselling service.
FPA is also funded by the Department of Health (England) to provide a wide range of booklets on individual methods of contraception, common sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy choices, abortion and planning a pregnancy. These are distributed freely across England to sexual health services and GPs.
Campaigning is a core part of the work of FPA. It played a role in obtaining the provision of free contraception on the NHS across the UK and campaigns around abortion to preserve consumer rights and choices. In May 2008, FPA and other pro-choice groups prevented a reduction of the 24 week time limit for abortion, which was debated in the House of Commons. The organisation is now trying to modernise abortion laws throughout the UK.
In 2010, FPA celebrated 80 years and rebranded with a new logo to reach more people with sexual health and sex and relationships information. During the same year it also founded an Achievers' Club to recognise people who have made significant contributions to improving the sexual health of the UK. "My contraception tool", an online tool to help people choose contraception, was launched by FPA and Brook. In October 2010, FPA also held the first all-Ireland conference on abortion for medical practitioners.
At the Charity Awards 2010, All about us, an FPA CD-ROM for people with learning disabilities, won the Disability category.
Due to the emotive nature of some topics addressed by FPA - for example, abortion - the charity has been criticised by a number of religious, political and pro-life groups. These groups generally protest on the grounds that all foetuses have a right to life; that sexual health education leads to promiscuity; that contraception is against the teachings of the Bible; and for other similar reasons. In the early years of the charity, objects were thrown at clinics and volunteers were threatened. At the present time, opponents frequently hold protests outside the FPA Belfast office.
- Family Planning Association, Registered Charity no. 250187 at the Charity Commission
- "FPA history". FPA.
- Family Planning Association archive details at AIM25
- Aaronovitch, David (20 March 2005). "Sexual healing". The Observer (London: Guardian News and Media). ISSN 0029-7712. OCLC 265226830. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- "FPA launches new logo". FPA.
- Improving people’s sexual health through modern technology at charityawards.co.uk
- Abortion Law (Northern Ireland) (Westminster Hall debate, 15 July 2009) at TheyWorkForYou