Iran’s state hospitals are no longer giving out contraceptives to try revive its dwindling population

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Iranian Leader Press Off. / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

  • On Sunday, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Hamed Barakati told the Islamic Republic News Agency that Iran’s state hospitals would no longer provide contraceptives or vasectomies.

  • The decision was made to try and boost Iran’s population, which he said was currently on track to have a third of its population over 60 by 2050.

  • The average family in Iran currently has 1.7 children. To maintain a population requires 2.2 children per family.

  • Iran’s population growth has been something of a roller coaster. Between 1968 and 1979, the population rose from 27 million to 55 million, boosted by the federal government encouraging people to have large families.

  • But concerns that the economy could not handle the rapidly expanding population led the federal government to impose a successful campaign to slow the population and from the 1980s until 2012, Iran had the largest and quickest drop in fertility ever.

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Contraceptives and vasectomies will no longer be offered in Iran’s state hospitals since the nation attempts to boost its dwindling population.

On Sunday, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Hamed Barakati told the Islamic Republic News Agency the measures had to be taken to increase its population, according to The Guardian.

“Whether we like it or not… we will become an aging country,” that he said, according to the outlet.

In Iran, families are currently having 1.7 children typically. To maintain a population requires 2.2 kids per family. By 2050, he said about a third of Iran would be over 60.

Iran’s annual growth has fallen below 1%, and Barakati predicted Iran is the “oldest country in the world in the next 30 years,” if the trend continued, the BBC reported.

It’s not a blanket ban. Private hospitals and pharmacies will still give you the procedures, and the state hospitals will have the ability to perform them in case a woman’s life is at risk.

Iran’s population growth has been something of a roller coaster. Between 1968 and 1979, the population rose from 27 million to 55 million, boosted by the government encouraging people to have large families.

Then, from the 1980s until 2012, Iran had the largest and quickest drop in fertility ever, according to the Los Angeles Times. It went from families having an average of seven children to less than two.

The dramatic drop was due to Iran’s former supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who feared the economy could no longer support an evergrowing population after Iran’s war with Iraq.

His government was responsible for making birth control accessible and it managed to convince conservatives to accept people using it.

Iran pushed a nationwide campaign to educate people about sexual health, condoms were given out for free, and contraceptives were cheap. It also pushed slogans like “Two children is enough,” and “Fewer kids, better life.”

One result of this is that more women went to school and work rather than raising children, and in 2001 women outnumbered men in universities, according to the Washington Post.

More than a decade ago, seeing the continual decline in population and fearing for Iran’s future, the government changed its tune. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei called for Iran to double its population.

The government increased its quantity of infertility clinics and changed its advice about it being safe to have a young child from every three to five years to 18 to 24 months.

In 2013, to encourage more children, Iran’s government extended maternity leave to nine months, and fathers were allowed fourteen days off.

But that wasn’t enough. In 2015, it passed two new laws to restrict access to contraceptives and outlaw voluntary sterilization.

Human rights groups condemned your choice, saying it could reduce women to “baby-making machines,” according to The Guardian.

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