Iran Votes To Ban Permanent Contraception

A favorable vote from Iran's parliament brings the country one step closer to banning all permanent contraception methods such as vasectomies.
Posted at 5:09 PM, Aug 11, 2014

Doctors in Iran could face serious penalties for performing vasectomies and other birth prevention surgeries. On Monday, the country's parliament voted to ban permanent forms of contraception, according to its state-run news, Islamic Republic News Agency.

Decades ago, Iran actually started subsidizing male sterilization and passed out free condoms, so this is a pretty big shift. 

Calling parliament to action is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In May, he touted the idea Iranian families should have more children to slow the decline in the country's population.  

This led to Monday's bill banning vasectomies and similar surgeries for women, which passed 143 to 88. The bill also bans birth control advertising and punishes doctors caught giving the operations.

As reported in The Independent, Khamenei believes a sizable Iranian population would "strengthen national identity" and curb "undesirable aspects of Western lifestyles."

The bill will now move on to a panel that will determine whether the law complies with Islam. We should note members of that panel have been appointed by Khamenei himself.

Critics say the ban will drive Iran's highly educated women back to being wives and mothers first. Others fear population growth will drain resources and hurt the economy. ThinkProgress cited a study by Harvard that describes why this push for women to raise more children might backfire on Iran.

​In countries that "expect women to remain at home to raise children, ambitious women are more likely to feel pressured to choose their career over having kids. Those young people will skip having a family altogether."

On the other hand, Iran's declining fertility rate raises some alarming numbers for leaders like Khamenei. The country's birth rate stands at 1.6 children per woman, according to U.N. data compiled by the National Post. The data states at that rate, Iran's 75 million citizens would fall to 31 million by 2094.

With this new bill, Khamenei's leadership hopes to reverse the effort. There is no firm date for when Iran's Islamic council will approve or disapprove of the new bill.