Iran’s new family planning laws enraged the international community and human rights organizations. The regime has proposed a ban on vasectomies and cutting access to contraception and abortion in an attempt to grow the population.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been condemning the country’s family planning laws “as an imitation of western lifestyle” since 2013. In April 2014, parliament discussed the possibility to overturn the laws. Iran implemented birth control rules twenty years ago. These regulations include “subsidized male sterilisation surgeries and free condom distribution.” State media reported “an overwhelming majority of Iranian MPs had consented to consider the bill” in a parliament controlled by conservatives.
“If we move forward like this, we will be a country of elderly people in a not too distant future,” said Khamenei in October 2013. “Why do some [couples] prefer to have one… or two children? Why do men or women avoid having children through different means? The reasons need to be studied… We are not a country of 75 million, we have [the capacity] to become at least 150 million people, if not more.”
Amnesty International released the report “You Shall Procreate: Attacks on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Iran” as a response and criticism to the laws. Hassiba Hadj Sahr, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, slammed Iran in a statement:
The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives…
“The bills reinforce discriminatory stereotypes of women and mark an unprecedented move by the state to interfere in people’s personal lives,” she continued. “In their zealous quest to project an image of military might and geopolitical strength by attempting to increase birth rates, Iran’s authorities are trampling all over the fundamental rights of women – even the marital bed is not out of bounds.”
Amnesty’s report only referenced the bans on birth control, condemning the proposal as restrictive to women. In the report, Amnesty said the bill “outlaws voluntary sterilization” but fails to mention that men also fall under that category. A vasectomy is a form of voluntary sterilization, which means Iran is also violating men’s reproductive rights. At press time, Amnesty International has not responded to an inquiry regarding the vasectomy matter.