Iran’s parliament approved a bill last week that, if adopted into law, would make getting tubectomies or vasectomies punishable by two to five years in prison. This stunned many Iranians, who have mocked the plan relentlessly online.
The vasectomy ban is part of a larger bill aiming to promote child-bearing in Iran. For a long time, due to the baby boom after the Iran-Iraq war, policies were aimed at reducing childbirth rates. In the past few years, however, this has changed. Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated on several different occasions that the country’s population needed to grow, and during provincial tours, even asked women to “get to it”.
Last year, the country’s highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, even admitted that his past endorsement of policies to reduce Iran’s birth rate were wrong, and announced new policies. Family planning courses have been dropped from university offerings, and health centres have seen their budgets for buying condoms and birth control pills slashed. Old ads that read “One child is good, two is enough” have been removed.
However, Iranian and international experts are not so sure banning tubectomies and vasectomies would do much to promote childbirth. Education rates in Iran are increasing, especially among women, 70 percent of whom reportedly use modern birth control methods. Furthermore, economic pressures are discouraging parents from building large families.
Iranians reacted to this proposal with a flurry of jokes online:
The draft law still needs to be approved by the rest of Iran’s legislative bodies. Following the online outcry against the ban on tubectomies and vasectomies, the executive branch – which does not have veto power – has announced that it was opposed to this part of the bill.