Iranian parliament bans vasectomies in bid to boost birth rate

| Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, 6:36 p.m.

Iran's parliament has voted to ban permanent forms of contraception, the state news agency IRNA reported, endorsing the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's call for measures to increase the population.

The bill, banning vasectomies and similar procedures in women, is parliament's response to a decree Khamenei issued in May calling for more babies to “strengthen national identity” and counter “undesirable aspects of Western lifestyles.”

Doctors who violate the ban will be punishable by law, the ISNA news agency reported.

The bill bans the advertising of birth control in a country where condoms had been widely available and family planning considered entirely normal.

The law heads to the Guardian Council — a panel of theologians and jurists appointed by the Supreme Leader who examine whether legislation complies with Islam.

It aims to reverse Iran's declining population, but reformists view the law as part of a drive by conservatives to keep Iran's highly educated female population in traditional roles as wives and mothers.

The law worries health advocates who fear an increase in illegal abortions.

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