Research Article

Fertility and legal abortion in England and Wales: performance indicators for family planning services.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 01 October 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:832
  1. M. Clarke
  1. Department of Community Health, Leicester Royal Infirmary.


    The relation between fertility rates and legal abortion rates was investigated in a sample of health authorities in England and Wales to see how these varied. Total period fertility rates and total period legal abortion rates were derived from the average number of live births or legal abortions that would be experienced per woman if women experienced the age specific rates of the year in question throughout their childbearing years. The sample of 30 health authorities was selected by taking the districts with the highest and lowest fertility rates in each English region and in Wales in 1986. Total period fertility rates varied from 1.37 in Riverside to 2.42 in Tower Hamlets, while abortion rates varied from 0.25 in East Yorkshire to 0.99 in Riverside. When the two rates were added to provide a potential fertility rate it became clear that some districts with similar potential fertility rates had very different underlying component rates. Such comparisons can be used for service monitoring, indicating the need for better abortion and family planning services in districts with high fertility rates and for better family planning services in those with high abortion rates.