Family Planning Association

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Founded1930 (1930)
Dissolved15 May 2019 (2019-05-15)
TypeSexual health charity
Registration no.250187
FocusSexual health information, contraception, abortion rights
  • 23–28 Penn Street, London N1 5DL
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
President: Baroness Gould of Potternewton
Chief Executive: Dr Audrey Simpson OBE
Chair of the Board of Trustees: Dr Val Day
Formerly called
Family Planning Association

FPA (Family Planning Association) was a UK registered charity (number 250187) working to enable people to make informed choices about sex and to enjoy sexual health. It was the national affiliate for the International Planned Parenthood Federation in the United Kingdom. It celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2010.[2] Its motto was "Talking sense about sex". The charity was placed into liquidation on 15 May 2019,[3] but the FPA name continues as a limited company selling sexual health resources.[4]


FPA was founded in 1930 when five birth control societies merged to form the National Birth Control Council (NBCC).[5] Charles Vickery Drysdale FRSE was important during its foundation.[6] Its stated purpose was "that married people may space or limit their families and thus mitigate the evils of ill health and poverty".[7] The NBCC changed its name to the National Birth Control Association (NBCA) in 1931,[5] and then to the Family Planning Association (FPA) in 1939.[5] Since 1998 it has been known as FPA.

The FPA was heavily invested in guaranteeing and standardising the various contraceptive methods it prescribed using modern science and medicine. From its inception, the association invested heavily in developing and implementing tests for chemical efficacy and safety and rubber quality. These findings were published after 1937 in its annual Approved List of contraceptives.[8]

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. Only in 1964 did they begin to provide un-married woman with contraceptives.[9]

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.[10]


The organisation's first administrator was Margaret Pyke OBE. Following Pyke's death in 1967, Jean Medawar took over as chairwoman.

As of 2010, the President of FPA was 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.[11]

Dr Audrey Simpson OBE became Chief Executive of FPA in October 2012, taking over from Julie Bentley who had 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.[12][13]

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).[14][15]

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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

In 2010, FPA celebrated 80 years[2] and rebranded with a new logo[19] 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.[20]


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.[21]


  1. ^ a b "Family Planning Association, registered charity no. 250187". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  2. ^ a b "FPA history". FPA. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  3. ^ "THE FAMILY PLANNING ASSOCIATION LIMITED | Appointment of Liquidators | the Gazette".
  4. ^ "FPA resources still available following FPA liquidation - Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare".
  5. ^ a b c "AIM25 text-only browsing: Wellcome Library: Family Planning Association".
  6. ^ Plaques, Open. "Charles Vickery Drysdale (1874–1961) historical plaques and markers".
  7. ^ Aaronovitch, David (20 March 2005). "Sexual healing". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Szuhan, Natasha (September 2018). "Sex in the laboratory: the Family Planning Association and contraceptive science in Britain, 1929–1959". The British Journal for the History of Science. 51 (3): 487–510. doi:10.1017/S0007087418000481. PMID 29952279. S2CID 49474491.
  9. ^ "FPA favours help for unmarried: Use of youth advisory centre". The Guardian. 5 June 1964. ProQuest 184947050.
  10. ^ Leathard, Audrey (1980), "A Free Family Planning Service", The Fight for Family Planning, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 190–200, doi:10.1007/978-1-349-04451-1_21, ISBN 978-1-349-04453-5, retrieved 21 September 2023
  11. ^ Mulholland, Hélène (9 December 2020). "Julie Bentley: 'Samaritans' services have been crucial during the pandemic'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  12. ^ Hall, Lesley A (8 March 2023). "Natasha Szuhan, The Family Planning Association and Contraceptive Science and Technology in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain". Social History of Medicine. doi:10.1093/shm/hkad009. ISSN 0951-631X.
  13. ^ Irwin, Robert (November 2006). "Thirty years of psychosexual nursing". Sexual and Relationship Therapy. 21 (4): 445–461. doi:10.1080/14681990600645740. ISSN 1468-1994.
  14. ^ Your sexual health: where to go for help and advice. FPA, Oct 2007, 23 pages, Pamphlet, Wellcome Collection
  15. ^ Hearton, Lynn (December 2009). [ "Making sexual health more accessible: enquiries to the sexual health charity fpa show the difficulties people still have in finding good, accessible information on sexual health and sexual health services"]. Journal of Family Health Care. 19 (6): 192 – via Gale Academic. {{cite journal}}: Check |url= value (help)
  16. ^ Sex Education in Ireland: A different culture - one challenge; a north-south conference, 1998 report, Belfast, Dublin: FPA Northern Ireland, 58 pages, illustrations, Wellcome Collection.
  17. ^ Hall, Jennifer; Chawla, Mehar; Watson, Daniella; Jacob, Chandni Maria; Schoenaker, Danielle; Connolly, Anne; Barrett, Geraldine; Stephenson, Judith (January 2023). "Addressing reproductive health needs across the life course: an integrated, community-based model combining contraception and preconception care". The Lancet Public Health. 8 (1): e76–e84. doi:10.1016/s2468-2667(22)00254-7. ISSN 2468-2667. PMID 36603914. S2CID 255468915.
  18. ^ SHELDON, SALLY; WELLINGS, KAYE, eds. (1 March 2020). Decriminalising Abortion in the UK. Policy Press. ISBN 978-1-4473-5402-4.
  19. ^ "FPA launches new logo". FPA. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010.
  20. ^ Improving people’s sexual health through modern technology Archived 2010-08-19 at the Wayback Machine at
  21. ^ "[Ann Winterton in the Chair] — Abortion Law (Northern Ireland): 15 Jul 2009: Westminster Hall debates". TheyWorkForYou.

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