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:
“What part of NO don’t you understand?”
"Dear Lord, Please take him somewhere where he can at least have control over his penis.”
“Ejaculation police!” (This is a play on words on the Persian term for morality police, which sounds very similar).
“A new ad on TV: Get a complete do-it-yourself #vasectomy kit, including one education DVD and a scalpel set for outpatient procedures in the kitchen. Only 55,000 Toman! But wait… If you call us in the next 30 minutes, you will also receive a pair of free scissors! Just text 1 to the number below”
“Here’s a new ad: Three day #vasectomy tours in the operation room of a beautiful Antalya (Turkey) beach resort”
“It’s not that complicated – you cut the skin of that region a bit. There are two tubes: you cut the blue one but not the red one, or it will explode. #vasectomy”
A journalist writes: “One of the MPs argued against giving prison terms for #vasectomy… because of prison overcrowding. #truestory”
“Hello! Police! Brother, I would like to report a prevention!”
“Somebody tell the Iranian football team to get the procedure done while they’re in Brazil, here in Iran it carries a five-year prison term #vasectomy”
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.