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contraceptives

Iran bans vasectomies and other forms of permanent contraception

Following supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal for more children to be born in the country, Iran's parliament voted to ban permanent forms of contraception.

The state news agency IRNA reported that vasectomies are now prohibited, as are similar procedures in women and even advertising of birth control. Doctors who violate this ban will be punished.

In May, Khamenei called for families to have more children in order to "strengthen national identity" and counter "undesirable aspects of western lifestyles." The bill was approved by 143 of the 231 members of parliament present for the vote, and is now headed to the guardian council, composed of theologians and jurists appointed by Khamenei who will decide if the law complies with Islam.

As Reuters reports, condoms have long been available in Iran, and family planning is not out of the ordinary. But a decline in population — the birth rate is at 1.6 children per woman — means that while Iran's median age in 2013 was 28, it will probably jump up to 40 by 2030. Reformists don't see this new law as a way to boost population numbers, Reuters explains, but rather as a ploy "by conservatives to keep Iran's highly educated women in traditional roles as wives and mothers."