With over half of Iran’s population under 30, and a high rate of unemployment amid economic woes, Iranian lawmakers have devised a method to make birth rates in the country rise – after decades of decline prompted by progressive family planning programs.
Since the 1980s, Iran’s birth rate has been declining, a result of programs meant to contain the population explosion that followed the 1979 revolution. However, in recent years, Iran has been scaling them back to increase the birthrate. Additionally, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spoken out against these programs, saying the use of contraceptive services was a “wrong” imitation of the Western lifestyle.
Now, Iranian lawmakers are considering new methods to encourage higher birth rates. In a story published last week, The Guardian reported that the parliament in Tehran was seeking to ban vasectomies, tighten abortion rules and inflict punishments on those encouraging contraception.
The report, which originally appeared in The Guardian (citing a report by the Fars news agency), was picked up by Western media outlets such as The Associated Press, the International Business Times, Slate, and Time magazine.
According to The Guardian, under Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian government offered an incentive in the form of gold coins to couples who had more children.
However, the measures currently being debated by the Iranian parliament will include not incentives for those who do have more children, but punishments for those who exercise freedom of choice when it comes to childbirth (contraception or abortion). Could it be that when it comes to population control, Iran’s current administration, under Khamenei’s spiritual guidance and Rouhani’s earthly leadership, is less progressive than that of post-revolution, 1980s Iran?